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Health Companies Settle Suit Over Use of Name

September 02, 1997|BARBARA MURPHY

WATTSHealth Systems Inc. and United HealthCare Corp. have settled their lawsuit over use of the United HealthCare name and service mark in five Southern California counties, including Ventura.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

United HealthCare is expected to immediately begin using the United HealthCare name to replace the MetraHealth Care name in Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

"We welcome the opportunity to reacquaint people throughout the state of California with our national brand, United HealthCare," said Henry Loubet, president of United HealthCare of California and CEO of its Pacific region. "Additionally, we welcome the opportunity to work with WATTSHealth Systems in mutually beneficial areas."

Dr. Clyde W. Oden Jr., president and CEO of WATTSHealth Systems and United Health Plan, said his company soon will announce a new logo and name for the company's HMO.

WATTSHealth was already using the name United Health Plan when United HealthCare got permission to do business under its own name from the California Department of Corporations, Loubet said. WATTSHealth filed suit in federal court, saying the names were too similar and preventing United HealthCare from using its name in the five Southern California counties.

WATTSHealth Systems, founded 30 years ago, is a nonprofit enterprise that serves as the holding company for a number of health-related and financial-services companies.

United HealthCare serves approximately 700,000 people through its health plans and other network-based or insurance products in the state, and more than 13 million people nationally.

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