There are thousands of names available to new private equity firms, which is why it’s so vexing that they often pick ones that are perilously close to the names of existing firms. I’m not just taking about the tired habit of naming your firm after a tree or a rock, but real phonetic similarities that can prompt incumbents to claim trademark infringement. We saw this last year when Union Square Ventures sued Union Square Partners (since settled out of court), and now have a new example: H.I.G. Capital suing H&G Capital Partners.
H.I.G. is the established player here, as a Miami-based firm with over $4 billion in assets under management (buyout, VC, distressed and public equities). H&G is the startup, a Salt Lake City-based middle-market buyout firm formed by Jon Huntsman Sr., former Bain Capital investor Bob Gay (thus the “H” and “G”) and some ex-Sorenson Capital pros like Steve Young (yeah, that Steve Young).
In its complaint, H.I.G. asserts that the name similarities will lead to market confusion, and said that H&G did not change its name after being requested to do so. H.I.G. is asking for punitive damages in a Florida court, although was recently denied an injunction. Neither firm has responses to requests for comment.
You can read the actual complaint here: complaint.pdf