Methodist Sports Medicine changes name in wake of lawsuit

Physician group Methodist Sports Medicine announced Tuesday that it has changed it to Forte Sports Medicine and Orthopedics following a lawsuit filed against it last month by Indiana University Health claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Methodist Sports Medicine did not mention the lawsuit in its announcement, but said “it underwent a rebranding process to find a name that would highlight its brand promise and position the practice for future growth.”

Founded in 1983 as a clinic in the basement of Methodist Hospital as one of the country’s original sports medicine practices, Methodist now has 29 physicians and 237 employees who offer specialized sports medicine and orthopedic care. In March, the group plans to relocate its primary practice location from a Carmel medical campus at 201 Pennsylvania Parkway to a new hospital being built by Franciscan Health at 111th and Illinois streets.

Franciscan and Methodist Sports Medicine announced in 2019 they were partnering to build and staff the new, $108 million orthopedic specialty hospital, where doctors will perform hip and knee replacements and sports medicine services.

In its lawsuit, IU Health said the group’s decision to partner with Franciscan was “effectively ending … (its) close working relationship” with IU Health. It asked the judge to order the sports medicine practice to change its name.

Officials at Methodist Sports Medicine have disputed that they are breaking a trademark but said last month they would change the name of the group.

“This rebranding is about more than just a new logo or colors,” said Dr. Mark Ritter, president of the group, in Tuesday’s announcement. “The name Forte was chosen because it not only allows us to highlight our forte, which is providing great clinical outcomes and an elevated patient experience, but also allows us to highlight how we help our patients get back to what they do best and live their lives fully.”

Methodist Sports Medicine began as the Thomas A. Brady Sports Medicine Center PC in 1983, named after its founder, a pioneer of sports medicine in Indianapolis.

According to the lawsuit, in or around 1990, the Brady Medicine Center branded itself as Methodist Sports Medicine with permission from Methodist Health Group Inc., the longtime owner of Methodist Hospital.

In 1997, Methodist Hospital and several other health care organizations were consolidated to create IU Health, then known as Clarian Health Partners. As part of that consolidation, Methodist Health Group licensed to IU Health the exclusive right to use and sublicense the Methodist mark in connection with health care services, programs and all related activities, the complaint said.

IU Health continued to allow Methodist Sports Medicine to use the Methodist name under the licensing agreement. The two operations set up a joint venture to operate outpatient surgery centers and have maintained close ties until now.

Methodist Sports had more than 180,000 patient visits last year for a wide variety of ailments, including concussions, spine injuries, rehabilitation and sports and orthopedic injuries.

It has clinics in Carmel, Avon, Westfield, Greenwood, Bloomington and Tipton. It is the official sports physicians of numerous high schools, colleges, coaching associations and the Indianapolis Colts.

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