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Firm asks credit union to discard 'Optiva'

Matt Nelson

The Daily Iowan

February 21, 2007

[Note: This material is copyright by The Daily Iowan, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Daily Iowan.]

The president of a financial institution called Optiva Mortgage in California is asking that the UI Community Credit Union's pending name change be stopped.

The request comes as a second vote - secured by a petition with 143 signatures - to change the credit union's moniker to Optiva approaches. Credit-union members first approved the name change in October 2006; the second vote will be held Feb. 28.

Jose Garcia of Optiva Mortgage, located in San Diego, sent a letter to credit union CEO and President Jeff Disterhoft and other board members, requesting that the name change be stopped because Optiva Mortgage is expanding to Missouri, which would serve adjacent states including Iowa.

Garcia told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday that although Optiva Mortgage did not hold the copyright to the name Optiva, the mortgage institution had used the name since October 2004.

"All our business licenses in the county of San Diego state we've been using this name since 2004," Garcia said. "We never thought anyone would use it."

Disterhoft said legal counsel for his credit union has tried to contact Garcia but have not yet reached him.

Communication between Optiva Mortgage and the credit union had not occurred because of a move in operations, Garcia said. The mortgage institution's CEO had received two voice mails from Disterhoft on Feb. 15 and 16, but he had only started returning calls Tuesday.

Meanwhile, according to public records regarding e-mail correspondence between Lawrence Lynch, the legal counsel for the credit union, and James Forney, the superintendent of the Iowa division of credit unions, disagreement arose regarding the validity of the petition that launched the Feb. 28 vote.

Forney disagreed with Lynch's assessment that the petition was "defective." Lynch had recommended that a meeting be held to discuss the petition, but any votes in that meeting "cannot be binding upon the credit union or its Board of Directors."

Forney's review of the documents found that the petition presented to the credit union adequately stated the purpose of the meeting - the critical requirement to guide the board to hold a second meeting about the name change.