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Judge Orders Ohio BC/BS to Stop Using Trademark

[Posted 11/06/96] On November 5, 1996, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that U.S. District Court Judge Lesley Brooks Wells has ordered Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio to stop using its trademark. The Cleveland–based insurer’s is in the process of selling itself for $299.5 million to Columbia/HCA.

It is expected that Ohio Blue Cross and Blue Shield will ask for a stay in the order until it is appealed. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the Cleveland insurer will be separated from the national plan. This will require Ohio BC/BS to change its name, remove the trademark from its letterhead and notify its 1.5 million Ohio customers. In addition, it will have to pay Columbia/HCA $50 million to continue the sale without the trademark.

This transaction has been littered with charges and countercharges including threats of lawsuits by BC/BS against critics of the sale and charges that the BC/BS Board of Directors received huge payoffs to support the deal. The sale is being legally challenged by the Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

(Editor’s Note: This sale raises many sobering issues about the future of healthcare. wln)