Chevron, Distributor Settle Lawsuit


A Montana distributor settled a lawsuit in which Chevron claimed the company sold Chevron products without authorization and under counterfeit trademarks – accusations which the distributor still denies.

Chevron, Cross Petroleum Service and its company president reached a stipulated consent judgement May 18 in the U.S. District court for the District of Montana. Under the settlement, Cross agreed to refrain from any use of Chevrons registered trademarks or marketing of itself as an authorized Chevron distributor. According to the document obtained by Lube Report, the distributor also agreed to deliver and destroy any materials – such as unauthorized labels, packaging, signs, business cards and advertisements – bearing Chevrons trademarks or any other mark similar to them. Violating the consent order would constitute contempt of court and subject the distributor to a court judgement against it in favor of Chevron.

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Chevron originally filed its lawsuit in Montana in September 2014 against Cross Petroleum Service and its president, Greg Cross. In the court document, Chevron said Cross Petroleum Service was formerly an authorized distributor of Texaco brand products prior to the 2001 merger of Chevron Corp. and Texaco Inc. That authorization was terminated, and defendants were not supplied with or authorized to distribute any Chevron or Texaco brand products during the relevant period of time, the company stated in the lawsuit. The lawsuit sought a variety of award damages to Chevron but the settlement did not provide them.

Lube Report was not able to reach Cross for comment by deadline, but its lawyer, Ronald Youde, subsequently pointed out that none of Chevrons allegations were adjudicated on the merits. In a public answer filed with the court on Dec. 8, Cross stated that All purchases of Chevron industrial and vehicle lubricants by CPS for resale have been through registered Chevron distributors. It also said that the Chevron marks were used lawfully for comparison, identification and referential purposes.

Our reputation for high product quality is of utmost importance to Chevron Lubricants and our customers, a Chevron spokesperson told Lube Report. Chevron reacts aggressively whenever we learn of instances of counterfeiting of our brands. This is one example of the type of action Chevron takes when appropriate to protect our customers. While we have not seen this as a widespread issue for Chevron, this does reinforce the importance of buying products only from authorized distributors.

The Chevron trademarks involved included Texaco, T Star Logo, Meropa, Regal and Ursa. Meropa industrial gear lubricants are designed for use in gear boxes and as speed reducers in industrial equipment. Regal is the brand name of a light-duty general purpose industrial lubricant. Ursa heavy-duty motor oil is for use in diesel-powered vehicles such as on-highway trucks and off-road construction and mining vehicles.

In or around August 2007, Chevron learned that Cross Petroleum Service continued to display Texaco signage at its place of business despite the termination of its relationship with Chevron in 2001. On Aug. 28, 2007, Chevron sent the distributor a cease and desist letter. On Sept. 4, 2007, Cross Petroleum Service agreed via a signed document to cease all use of the Texaco trademark in connection with its business.

In April 2014, Chevron learned that Nortana Grain Co. and its predecessor-in-interest had purchased Texaco-branded Meropa, Ursa and Regal lubrication products from Cross Petroleum Service, although the company was still not an authorized dealer of Chevron lubrication products.

Chevron noted it had not offered its Meropa, Regal and Ursa products under the Texaco brand since about 2008 – thereafter, those products were sold under the Chevron brand. In its lawsuit filing, the company included photographs of drums supplied by Cross Petroleum Service to Nortana in April 2014.

Tests of samples taken from the Nortana Drums revealed that these samples were significantly different from authentic Chevron formulations for its products, Chevron said in its lawsuit. In other words, product inside the Nortana Drums was not Chevron product, although the drums were labeled with Chevron Trademarks and sold to Nortana under those trademarks as Chevron products. The lawsuit went on to say the oil major had since learned that Cross Petroleum Service sold hundreds of 55-gallon drums amounting to over 13,000 gallons of Texaco-branded Meropa, Regal and Ursa lubrication products in 2013 and 2014 alone. None were supplied by Chevron or any Chevron authorized distributor, the company said.

Cross Petroleum Services denied those allegations as well, in its December answer to the court.

Cross Petroleum Service is not related to Cross Petroleum, which is a Chevron lubricants distributor based in northern California.