PINEHURST — What's in a name? For Pinehurst residents the answer is recognition, a sense of belonging, and money.
Village leaders say the corporation that owns thePinehurst Hotel and Country Clubhas trademarked the name Pinehurst and does not want other businesses to use it.
As a result, Pinehurst businesses say they have been told they must change their names; they can use Village of Pinehurst, but not Pinehurst alone. They say if they do not make the change, they will be sued.
The change could be costly for business owners like Donna Nolen. "I have to change all my accounts, that takes lots of time, lots of explanations," Nolen says.
Nolen also questions the fairness of the demand. "I did buy a business with the reputation. I came here and I paid for it."
Village leaders say even the post office was told to change its name.
"I don't think it's a very good public relations move," says Ted Rhodes, of the Village of Pinehurst Business Guild. "But I can see that they have a trademark issue that they want to address."
Pinehurst residents met with village leaders Wednesday night to vent their anger. Village leaders say they are against the name-changing and because of it will pursue legal action againstClub Corporation of America.
"There's not question you can trademark the name Pinehurst for specific goods and services. But I'm told you can't trademark a geographic location for any and all purposes," says business owner Joe Grantham. "So how does it affect your business? If you can't say where you are, how do you get people there?"
Residents and business owners at the meeting concede that businesses in direct competition with the Hotel and Country Club should not be able to use the name, but feel others should not be forced to make the change.
Representatives of ClubCorp could not be reached for comment.