- Jan 17, 2012
Backcountry.com sues anyone who uses its namesake. Is it bullying or just business?
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Backcountry.com a year ago filed for trademarks protecting the word “backcountry” for all sorts of outdoor gear as the online retailer launched its first-ever branded jackets, skis and apparel. Now the e-commerce behemoth is suing small business owners who have trademarked the word “backcountry.”
“My feeling is that nobody should have the right to the term ‘backcountry,’” said Jordan Phillips, who launched his American-made jeans company Backcountry Denim in 2017 and was sued this year in California federal court by Backcountry.com. “It’s like trying to trademark ‘road’ or ‘beach’ or ‘mountain.’”
The 23-year-old Utah e-retailer — founded by ski bums but owned since 2015 by private equity firm TSG Partners — this year deployed California’s IPLA Legal Advisors, the nation’s largest trademark-only law firm, in four lawsuits targeting small businesses that used the word backcountry in their name. The U.S. District Court lawsuits follow several years of the e-retailer filing dozens of lawsuits and protests with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office targeting businesses that have trademarked the word backcountry.
Backcountry.com, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the flurry of lawsuits.
IPLA attorney John H. Kim last year filed for trademarks on behalf of Backcountry.com for hundreds of pieces of gear, including tailgate pads for bikes in pick-up beds, climbing ropes, crash pads for rock climbing, avalanche probes, ski goggles, ski helmets, bike tools, water bottles, bedding, camp chairs, duffel bags, dog leashes, climbing skins, chalk bags and women’s clothing.
Last year Backcountry.com announced it was joining venerable outdoor manufacturers Flylow, Black Diamond, Smartwool and skimaker DPS to launch its first-ever namesake lifestyle and backcountry ski touring collections. The new products carry the company’s signature white mountain goat.
Earlier this year the company announced even more goat-branded stuff, with Backcountry.com-branded climbing, mountain biking, winter apparel, travel and outdoor lifestyle clothing bearing the Backcountry logo. This year’s expansion included collaborations with brands Black Diamond and Burton.
The e-retailer sued Utah bikemaker Backcountry eBikes in February, and the company settled in May and is now known as Backcou eBikes. In July the website sued Constellation Outdoor Education, which trademarked the name Backcountry Babes for its Colorado-born, women-focused avalanche education clinics. That case was settled less than three weeks after Backcountry.com sued. The settlement deals are sealed but the Backcountry Babes website and trademark is still live.
Backcountry.com filed for its first registration of a service mark in 2004 for “retail store services, mail order services and computerized online retail store services.” It secured the trademark in 2007...
More at the link below:
Backcountry.com a year ago filed for trademarks protecting the word “backcountry” for all sorts of outdoor gear as the online retailer launched its first-ever branded jackets, skis and apparel. Now the e-commerce behemoth is suing small business owners who have trademarked the word...