DETROIT — Automotive supplier Venture Industries Corp. is suing Becker Ventures LLC over the ``venture'' name.
Venture, based in Fraser, Mich., has asked for a preliminary injunction barring Becker from using that moniker. The injection molder argues that Becker's use of ``venture'' causes confusion among Venture's long-standing customers, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Venture and Troy, Mich.-based Becker Ventures make similar products and have many of the same customers, said David Davis, Venture vice president of marketing. Venture has been in business 25 years, Davis said.
The Becker Ventures name was adopted formally in July, according to the lawsuit. The new company includes executives formerly with Becker Group Inc., an interior-systems supplier that was sold to Johnson Controls Inc. of Plymouth, Mich. in mid-1998.
The Becker executives purchased eight injection molding plants and two tooling shops — all once owned by Becker Group Inc.— from JCI in January.
But, according to an affidavit filed by Becker Group, Becker Ventures is not in the injection molding business but was formed to invest in business opportunities unrelated to automotive interior trim. The former JCI plants actually are operated by Becker Group LLC, the successor to Becker Group Inc., the defendants maintain.
Venture sent a letter to Becker Ventures executives in January asking that the name be changed, Davis said. No response was received, so Venture filed suit, he said.
Robert Tuttle, a lawyer for Venture, said talks are ongoing between the two companies. A lawyer for Becker Group said the company does not allow him to comment on the case.
The case cites several Plastics News articles reporting that Becker Ventures had bought the JCI facilities. Becker Group Chairman Charles Becker claimed those reports were erroneous.
However, Venture lawyers argued that Becker did not respond to several telephone inquiries at the time asking about the new company.
A January news release published by JCI referred to the company buying the molding plants as Becker Ventures LLC.