"It was easy to establish that my client's company had a greater vested interest in the Tanzania brand name," said Yeltzer's lawyer, Ben Knowles. "Tanzania, the salon chain, is a rapidly growing business, adding nearly 50 locations each year. Tanzania, the African nation, is lanquishing under a debt of $7 billion."
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Yeltzer said he didn't realize that the African country existed until July 2001, when a routine Internet search brought the nation to his attention. Yeltzer said he created the name for Tanzania Salons by merging the words "tan" and "zany" to suggest a lighthearted, fun approach to indoor-tanning retail.
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Although Yeltzer refused to disclose the amount of money he spent to bring the trademark-infringement suit against the country, he said it was "sizable." His team of lawyers delivered the first cease-and-desist order to the nation of Tanzania in August 2001, but received no response from Mkapa until January 2003, when the letters were finally translated into Swahili.
"Had Mkapa changed the name when we asked, he could have saved his country all those legal fees," Yeltzer said. "Our lawyers know what they're doing. They're not afraid to take on a midsized African country."