Was there a split between ACE and ACO Hardware Stores?

As far as I know, Ace Hardware and ACO are two different hardware stores. They were never the same store so there was no split.

When I was young I remember many ACE Hardware stores in the Detroit metro area. Many years ago, maybe the 70's, I noticed a few new hardware stores opening named A.C.E. Hardware. I was confused, why some stores were ACE Hardware and others were A.C.E.?

I found out A.C.E. was a rival store to ACE Hardware. A.C.E was confusing costumers with their name so they would shop at A.C.E. thinking it was ACE Hardware.

A.C.E. believed the periods in their name was enough legal difference but it wasn't. Ace Hardware sued A.C.E. stating their name was too similar to ACE Hardware. They won the law suit. That's when A.C.E changed their name to A.C.O. Hardware. It was easier and cheaper to change one letter in the name. As years went by I've noticed they dropped the periods and are named ACO Hardware.