IBJNews

Real estate lawsuit pits Situs vs. Situs

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A Texas commercial real estate consultancy is suing a local brokerage over the rights to use the name they both share.
 
On Dec. 21, Houston-based Situs Inc. filed a federal lawsuit in Indianapolis against Greenwood-based Situs Realty Corp. Houston’s Situs alleges it has owned and used the name Situs “for many years.” The term Situs is Latin for “location” or “site.”

As plaintiff in the suit, Houston’s Situs seeks an accounting and award of the local firm’s profits under the Situs name and cancellation of its registration rights to the moniker.

Jennifer Uschold, a spokeswoman for Houston’s Situs, declined IBJ’s request for an interview or comment. According to its Web site, Houston’s Situs was formed in 1985. It has international offices in London, Berlin, Frankfurt and Tokyo as well as domestic branch locations in New York, Boca Raton, Fla.; Robbins N.C.; Montgomery Ala.; and Little Rock, Ark. Its listed real estate services include asset management, loan servicing and brokerage.

In its lawsuit, Houston’s Situs alleges the Greenwood company applied for federal registration of its name on March 29, 2006, resulting in a registration on Jan. 23, 2007. Keith Stark, Situs Realty Corp. principal, said he conceived the name far earlier, back in 1989 when he was a University of Illinois student studying urban economics and a member of a real estate fraternity. He formed his company in 1999, and said he’s always used the Situs name.

Stark said he went through a very expensive and time-consuming legal process to properly register the Situs brand, including the federal government’s mandatory waiting period during which others can attempt to contest name rights. Stark said Houston’s Situs never challenged his registration until it initially tried to press its lawsuit in Texas courts earlier this year.

“I intentionally went out and got the trademark for a reason. I have owned it and the rights to Situs for the entire lower 48, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and whatever. And [Situs] didn’t show up when the world was put on notice,” Stark said in a telephone interview.

“If they wanted to contest it, they should have done that six or seven years ago,” Stark added. “It’s no longer up for discussion.”

Stark said he’s offered to sell Houston’s Situs rights to the name, but the company declined his terms, which he wouldn’t disclose other than to say his price is “a lot.” Stark said he’s considering a countersuit to stop the Houston company from using the Situs name.

“I told them, 'make me an offer, buy it from me,'” Stark said. “They didn’t want to do that.”

Greenwood’s Situs Realty is perhaps best-known for its leasing work at Hamilton County’s 750-acre, mixed-use Saxony Development. It also helped develop Greenwood’s Brandywine Crossing and Greenfield at the Crossing shopping centers. Before the recession, it had eight employees and was the city’s 19th-largest commercial real estate brokerage, according to IBJ’s 2007 book of lists. But Stark said the economic downturn has taken a heavy toll on his company, as it has on most everyone in real estate. Situs does not appear in later IBJ rankings.

Today, Greenwood’s Situs Realty has just two employees, including Stark. Because bank lending is so difficult to secure, he said, his company had to set aside all its pre-recession commercial real estate development plans. Today, the business’s focus is backfilling existing shopping centers with retail tenants and helping banks dispose of underperforming real estate assets they’ve obtained via foreclosure.

“So many companies haven’t been able to weather this significant storm, which started mid-2007,” Stark said. “And here we are walking into 2010 and the skies haven’t cleared yet.”

Since the two companies operate in different geographies, Stark said, he wasn’t aware until recently of Houston’s Situs. He said he suspects the Texas company is suing now because, although it’s always been a real estate consultant, it recently expanded into the brokerage business.

“They’re contesting the trademark to see if they can find an ‘I’ that wasn’t dotted or a ‘T’ that wasn’t crossed,” Stark said. “All I can offer them is good luck. It’s a matter of law and very clear.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

ADVERTISEMENT