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Bauer Hockey sues to get North St. Paul private school to change its name

08/06/2014, 6:55pm CDT
By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune

The company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bauer-Emerson, formerly Achiever Academy, in July to stop using its name.

A local up-start hockey training academy is attempting to take advantage of the Bauer name, according to a lawsuit filed by the hockey giant in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Bauer Hockey, Inc., sued Bauer-Emerson Prep Academy on Tuesday, seeking to force the North St. Paul-based school to change its name to avoid “further damage” to “Bauer’s reputation and goodwill associated with” its trademark name. Bauer also seeks an undisclosed financial settlement.

Like its predecessor Achiever Academy, Bauer-Emerson is a hockey-intensive private school. Co-owners Greg Gartner and Tom Forsythe said the name was uniquely inspired; bauer, the German word for farmer, represents work ethic. Emerson is a nod to American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson and the idea of “self reliance,” Gartner said.

Vermont-based Bauer Hockey sold $175 million in products the past fiscal year and holds a 53-percent worldwide market share. The Bauer trademark has been in use in the United States since the early 1970s. The company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bauer-Emerson in July to stop using its name and claims in the suit that the school rejected its request.

“We received only one letter prior to the initiation of the lawsuit,” said Matthew Resch, general counsel for Ability Academic & Athletic LLC, which oversees Bauer-Emerson. “We didn’t reject the cease-and-desist letter. But we didn’t accept it, either. We requested a discussion.”

“Clearly, we’re disappointed,” Resch said Wednesday. “We’re in communication with Bauer hockey and we’re confident this matter will be resolved.”

Bauer-Emerson’s six Revolution teams will play Tier I hockey this season, competing against programs such as Shattuck-St. Mary’s of Faribault. The school did not apply for Minnesota State High School League membership after the tumultuous end to Achiever Academy’s 2013-14 season.

Questions about Achiever Academy’s compliance with high school league rules boiled over last February. At the root were concerns, shared in an unsigned e-mail sent to the league, that as many as six players did not meet residency requirements. In some cases, parents did not relocate to Minnesota when players moved here, the e-mail claimed. In others, in-state players transferred but no family move apparently took place, as required by league rules.

School officials withdrew their girls’ team just hours before the section championship game. A few days later, at least five boys’ hockey players from the school missed the section playoffs as a result of a school inquiry into their eligibility. The school, which had 71 students enrolled last year in grades seven through 12, did not disclose the exact nature of the eligibility questions.

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