Legal fight over Tesoro name

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POSTED: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 4:32pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 11:57am

Tesoro means treasured in Spanish.  And it's a name that Paul Sullivan treasures.  

Sullivan started his company in 1975... making signs.  

But now somebody else is using the name.  

"It's hard enough to run your business on day to day basis, than to have to fight something like this," Sullivan said.

Tesoro Petroleum is an oil company based out of San Antonio that earned $33 billion in revenue last year.  The sign maker employs about 30 people and filed a lawsuit.  

The judge said Sullivan's company had the name first.  Tesoro the oil company could not be reached for comment on this story.  

"I didn't go into this lawsuit lightly," Sullivan said. "I knew that I was in for a battle. I wish that they would just obey the law, and not use our name."  

Sullivan said he's spent more than $250,000 in legal fees since the process began. He added that he's not giving up the fight, because what worth far more to him is the reputation he's built over more than four decades in business.  

"As far as I'm concerned, our name is not for sale," Sullivan said. "We've worked too hard to build our reputation under Tesoro Corporation." 

The jury in the lawsuit agreed with Sullivan.  The two Tesoros would cause confusion.  Every phone at the sign maker's office has the oil company's phone number on it to make it easier to route wrong numbers.  

Despite the trouble, sullivan isn't seeking any financial damages in the lawsuit.  He said doing so would only prolong and complicate matters.  

"I hope they'll step up to the plate and do what's right and give me back my name," he said.  

The court will decide in June exactly how to limit the oil company's use of Tesoro.  Sullivan said he expects the oil company to appeal.   

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