Colorado health system, BCBS logo dispute lands in court

Denver-based Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that the logo it uses for its hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities does not infringe or dilute any valid trademark of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit health system, and it uses the symbol of the cross to denote its Christian heritage. SCL Health updated its logo to what it calls a "Heart and Cross Mark" in 2014 and filed an application to register the updated logo that same year. BCBS Association subsequently made it known to SCL Health that it objects to the updated logo on the grounds that it infringes on its trademark rights, according to SCL Health's complaint.

"Through various statements, innuendoes and outright threats, BCBS Association has asserted that the Updated Heart and Cross Mark infringes BCBS Association's trademark rights and dilutes the distinctive value of the Blue Cross Logo and Blue Shield Mark and has demanded SCL Health cease using the Updated Heart and Cross Mark in combination with any blue color elements," the health system's complaint states.

The battle over the logo has also led to BCBS Association's representatives threatening to terminate all existing payer relationships with SCL Health and to "never again undertake a commercial relationship of any sort" with the health system, according to the complaint.

If BCBS Association was to follow through on its threats, SCL Health would experience a decrease in revenues, and it would impose a hardship on patients, according to the complaint.

BCBS Association could not be immediately reached for comment regarding the pending litigation.

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