Legal Question in Business Law in Missouri

We own a small bike shop. We contracted with Pedego to sell only their bikes, so we have a "territory". Ours is defined by an 8 mile radius from the store. The store is in the St. Louis metropolitan area, as defined by the census. We have now been told we can not use the term "St Louis". A St. Louis Pedego store was started(but physically located in a small municipality within the County) and were given the territory of St Louis City and County. The original owner of our store started around 2014, then St Louis store opened around 2019, then we bought this shop at the start of 2022.

First Question - can they legally prevent us from using the term St Louis? We were the 1st store for the company in the St Louis Metropolitan Area (just not within St Louis county or city) but have been told we can't say that on a website or in advertising because it infringes on the St Louis story "territory."

Second Question - the company says it is our fault we didn't specify a larger territory in our contract and we should have had legal counsel to catch the issue. Would have prior legal counsel been able to foresee the company defining territories differently for different stores. example radius versus city/county? There was no indication territories could be defined differently. Along with that, can we ask to see the part of the contract that states another stores territory?

At no time do we want to identify as the other store and use St Louis in our name, URL, or other identification. Basically we want to be able to state we are serving the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.

Thank you for any input and understanding you can give.

Asked on 4/21/23, 6:27 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

Under normal circumstances, you can of course say that you are serving the St. Louis metro area if that is in fact where you are. But like many things, you can contract away certain rights and privilages for a benefit.

Does your agreement with them set out the territory and does it address how you can refer to that territory? I assume that this other location is complaining because they contracted for the "St Louis" proper territory and they deem your reference as unnecessarilly competitive. This is not unreasonable of course and presumably you might feel the same if it were the other way around.

There is no way to address this here as the agreement along with all the facts would need to be reviewed.

Before you get legalistic about it, is it ultimately that meaningful to use St Louis in your marketing? will it really mean that much a difference in results? Can this be resolved with a compromise of some sorts?

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DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

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Answered on 4/21/23, 9:33 am

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