Thursday, 06 December 2018 22:39

Tatman Name Returns to IL Body Repair Shop After Years of Legal Battles

Written by Ben Zigterman, News-Gazette Media


After three years in court, Tim Tatman can use his own name again.


The auto body repair shop owner has been fighting to use the Tatman name on his shop at 701 N. Mattis Ave., C, in Champaign, IL, since he opened it in 2015.


But when his father, Paul Tatman, sold his shops around 2006 to Plainfield-based Car Care Collision Centers, the Tatmans also agreed not to use their name on a competing car repair shop.


So Car Care sought an injunction against Tim Tatman, who opened his shop as Tatman's Collision Repair Center.


After Champaign County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Ford said Tatman shouldn't use his name with the words "collision" or "repair," he changed the name to Tim Tatman's Auto Body.


Car Care wasn't satisfied, and Ford then ruled that Tatman couldn't use his own last name in the business name, though he could say his shop is owned by Tim Tatman.


So for the last three years, his shop has been called Tim's Auto Body. He also has faced restrictions on how his name can be used in advertisements, including "how I could say my name, how big the name could be printed in ratio of the sign," Tatman said. "It had to be a certain size and couldn't be very big."


Car Care was later sold to national multi-shop operator (MSO) Service King, so Tatman decided this year to try to get his name back.


His lawyer, Jim Martinkus, filed a motion in July to dissolve the injunction because Car Care no longer exists as a corporate entity as of 2017, according to the Illinois Secretary of State.


"Service King no longer uses the Tatman name and has no protectable interest in it," Martinkus said.


After Service King said it wouldn't object, Ford dissolved the injunction in September, according to the case's docket.


Service King, which could not be reached for comment, has since tried to add itself to the case, though Martinkus said this shouldn't affect Tatman's ability to use his name.


"It does not affect Tim's right to use the Tatman name," he said.

So Tatman plans to change the shop's name to Tatman's CARSTAR, with signs up by Jan. 1.


Tatman said he chose to be a CARSTAR franchise "because it allows me to compete with the big consolidators but still own the shop." He said his shop is doing well.


"We've succeeded without the Tatman name to this point, further than I could ever imagine," he said. With the Tatman name, it's "just going to get better. In the spring, we're expanding and doubling the size of the shop."


Tatman said he's "proud and excited" to be able to use his name after his dad "worked so hard" to build its reputation.


"It's a good name in the collision world," Tatman said. "It's a big name."


His dad said he's pleased his son gets to use the family name, but understood where Service King was coming from.


"They weren't using it, but you’ve got to understand their position," Paul Tatman said. "The name is well-branded in this area."


Paul Tatman opened his first shop in 1959 after graduating the year before from Urbana High School and built it into a small chain before selling it.


Reproduced by permission of News-Gazette Media. Permission does not imply endorsement.

Read 1619 times