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2 auto financing companies in court battle over the name ‘Coast’

The word “coast” has prompted a Newport Beach-based auto financing company to file a $3-million trademark infringement lawsuit against a nearby competitor.

According to court documents filed last month in the Santa Ana federal courthouse, Coast Acceptance Corp., a subprime auto lending company, got its name in 2002 because its founder loved the Newport Beach coast.

But early this year, Coast Acceptance management learned of an auto finance company in Irvine that has been using the “coast” label, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Coast Financial Counseling has been going by the name Coast Financial Auto, which is similar to Coast Automotive Finance, the name Coast Acceptance Corp. uses to do business.

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According to the lawsuit, this has already caused confusion with at least one customer who called the wrong business by mistake.

“This appears to be a very clear-cut and blatant case of infringement by a direct competitor,” Coast Acceptance Corp.'s lawyer William Levin said in a statement. “The parties are in the same industry in the same geographical area, using an essentially identical name, which the other Coast must realize will mislead customers in the automotive finance arena.”

In addition to $3 million in damages, Coast Acceptance has asked a judge to bar Coast Financial from using the word “coast” in its branding.

Coast Financial Counseling was founded in 2010, according to the lawsuit. The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.

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Jeremiah Dobruck, jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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