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Big corporation goes after name of Southwest Florida business

Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 06:35:20-05

A Punta Gorda woman started a clothing company that's become her passion, but said now a big corporation could be stepping in and taking her name from her.

Mary Rogner Raymond's athletic brand is called American Alpha Apparel. She got the company trademarked in 2016. But the corporation Gildan recently purchased American Apparel, and sent her a letter saying it filed a cancellation proceeding at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in attempts to cancel her trademark for American Alpha Apparel.

American Alpha Apparel sells bold leggings, shirts, and hats with an underlying American spirit.

"I've put my heart and soul into it," Rogner Raymond said.

"She is the definition of an alpha female," her best friend Sarah Zimmerman said.

Rogner Raymond said she started the company three years ago after a back injury.

"I went from making OK money to nothing. I had to live off of nothing," she said. "I decided to dump all of my savings into my company, so it is my baby."

She said the company has since taken off. But a month ago, she got that letter from Gildan. She told Fox 4 the letter said Gildan was filing a cancellation proceeding to try to cancel her trademark for American Alpha Apparel.

"Honestly, when I got the letter, I really thought it was fake," Rogner Raymond said. "I truly thought it was fake. No way, Gildan's not coming after me. This is a million dollar company. I'm just a little guy."

She took the letter to her attorney William Noonan, who told her the letter was real.

"What they're saying is American Alpha Apparel is likely to be confused by the public with American Apparel," Noonan said.

He said over 900 clothing companies use the word "American" or "America" and the word "apparel" is generic for clothing. He believes they have a good case against Gildan.

"Really, our only two options are I forfeit what I work so hard for, or I fight," Rogner Raymond said.

She and her attorney said the battle is a costly one they can't afford.

The future of American Alpha Apparel is uncertain, but the thought of losing the name she's worked so hard for is unimaginable to her. "This is what I love, and I don't want to stop," she said.

Noonan said Rogner Raymond would essentially lose ownership of the name "American Alpha Apparel" if the cancellation goes through.

Fox 4 has reached out to Gildan and will update this story when we hear back.

Rogner Raymond is selling what's left of her inventory at Around the Clock Fitness on Boyscout Drive in Fort Myers on Monday and Tuesday from 4-8 PM.