A tiny Canadian retailer has drawn a bead on the bullseye company.

Target Corp. is fighting Toronto fashion merchant Isaac Benitah, who is opening his own Target stores at a time when the Minneapolis-based retailer is making plans to expand into Canada.

The American retailer was scheduled to make its case before the trademark office on Friday, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto.

Benitah claims that he has owned the rights to the Target name in Canada for nearly a decade, the newspaper reported. He recently opened a Target Apparel in Nanaimo, British Columbia, using the same red, sans-serif style lettering. Another store is scheduled to follow soon in Sudbury, Ontario.

Benitah has said that he plans to open at least a dozen supersized Target Apparel stores across the "Great White North'' in the next couple of years.

Observers say resolution of the case could take years, and that the conflict makes Target Corp.'s entrance into Canada more difficult -- and perhaps impossible. Target already is on the hunt for possible sites in Canada.

The two Targets are familiar foes. The Minneapolis company launched a trademark fight over the name in 2002, but the Federal Court of Appeal sided with Benitah. Canada's Target Apparel brand dates back to the 1980s, Benitah says. Benitah, chief executive of INC Group, acquired the men's clothing label in 2001.

In the latest challenge filed with the Canadian office this summer, Target Corp. argued that Benitah's right to use the name had dissolved under domestic trademark laws because he hadn't used it for three years, the Globe and Mail reported.

Target Corp. spokeswoman Erika Svingen declined to discuss the case or even confirm its existence.

In a statement, Target said it "has the right to use the word 'Target' in Canada. We are not aware of an individual or entity that could prevent us from using this name."

Target said it hopes to open stores there by mid-decade.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335