Business development / Legal / Technology

Avencia becomes Azavea, relents on trademark dispute, to launch redesigned site

Threatened with legal action, Robert Cheetham, the founder of a Callowhill GIS firm, is changing his decade-old organization Azavea, from Avencia.

Update: Technically Philly has received additional information about the reasons behind the name change and is seeking to clarify the confusion.

Robert Cheetham doesn’t want to change his name.
The founder of Avencia doesn’t want to be forced to develop a new brand for his Callowhill-headquartered GIS software firm.
“Avencia will now be known as Azavea – pronounced like “azalea”. There is no particularly good reason for this, and this was not a change that we sought,” Cheetham says. “We liked our name just fine.”
But the change has come just the same, the result of giving into the financial pressures of a three-years-old trademark dispute.

The branding clash came from a company Avencia has declined to name but sought to have their registered trademark canceled. Cheetham says neither company found customers confusing the two names, but “the other party has persisted in their effort.”
“We have vigorously defended ourselves since then but it has been a very distracting and expensive process, and now taking it to its conclusion in federal court will only be more so. This has reached the point where our continued defense will jeopardize the financial stability of the firm, and distract us from focusing on our clients,” Cheetham says. “That is simply not acceptable, so we have decided to throw in the towel.
The company posted a new logo on its existing Web site, though Cheetham pledged in a release to launch a newly redesigned Web site in April. The former URL now directs to
The new name has clear similarities to its predecessor, though the ‘v’ that replaces an ‘l’ might seem like an obstacle to branding — or an invitation to get to know the company better.
“My brother-in-law is from Pakistan. While we were brainstorming for a new name, he mentioned that “zavea” means perspective in Urdu,” Cheetham says. “We liked the sound of it and its evident connection to geography. So after a few spelling tweaks to enable us to create a strong trademark, we adopted Azavea.”
Cheetham is quick to note that “the company’s mission remains the same.”
That mission is one from a company that has, in the past year alone, rolled out a legislative data API, a tool to map Philadelphia election results, a platform that aggregates Philadelphia real estate data, partnered with Common Cause to lend transparency to local campaign contributions and tried to march up to New York City and win its BigApps contest with a tool that tracks the walkability of neighborhoods.
Cheetham says: “We will continue to perform research and create software that brings together the best aspects of geography and the Web.”
Every Monday, Technically Not Tech will feature people, projects, and businesses that are involved with Philly’s tech scene, but aren’t necessarily technology focused. See others here.

Companies: Azavea

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