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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Eaton Vance Navigates a Key Branding Change

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The Eaton Vance [profile] team is unifying the branding for one of their key ventures. The change comes as the Boston-based, publicly-traded mutual fund shop faces a trademark lawsuit over that venture.

Thomas Faust
Eaton Vance Investment Management
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer
Eaton Vance just cleared its last regulatory hurdle to launching the first funds under the new exchange-traded managed fund (ETMF) structure. Eaton Vance is calling those new funds NextShares and is licensing the idea to other mutual fund shops looking for a more active-management-friendly, ETF-like solution. Eaton Vance spokeswoman Robyn Tice confirms that the Eaton Vance unit behind the new structure just changed its name to NextShares Solutions, from Navigate Fund Solutions, "to better align with the NextShares product offerings."

Meanwhile, on December 4 Philadelphia-based Clark Capital Management Group [profile] filed a lawsuit against Eaton Vance and Navigate in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia-based Clark Capital is a 29-year-old mutual fund shop and ETF strategist that distributes through advisors and has about $3.3 billion in AUM as of May 31. It offers funds and services branded with variations on Navigator, and the suit accuses the Eaton Vance/Navigate folks of "trademark infringement, unfair competition and breach of contract."

MFWire could not reach a Clark spokesperson for comment on the suit. Tice with Eaton Vance declined to comment on the suit directly.

As for Eaton Vance rebranding Navigate as NextShares Solutions after the lawsuit was filed, Tice says that "the timing is coincidental."

"This renaming effort has been underway for quite some time," Tice states. "This change is taking place independent of the lawsuit you mentioned." 

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