Park City Powdercats formally challenges Vail Resorts’ trademark bid
May 27, 2016
Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski, a firm that operates ski outings on privately held terrain east of Oakley, has filed a formal opposition to an application by Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts to trademark the words ‘Park City’ as they apply to the name of a mountain resort.
The opposition notice was submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is considering the trademark application. The Vail Resorts application for the words ‘Park City’ sparked concern about the impact of such a trademark on the numerous businesses in the area that have had those words in their names for years.
In its opposition filing, Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski says it has used the name since 1993. It also says it has submitted an application for its own trademark in response to the application by Vail Resorts.
Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski says it has concerns Vail Resorts will force the company to change the name through a lawsuit if the trademark is granted to the Colorado firm. Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski would "lose more than 19 years of accumulated name recognition associated with its unique business," the opposition filing says.
It also says "it is inappropriate for (Vail Resorts) to attempt to claim ownership of the name of a municipality which should be the sole entity to determine the use thereof" and that Vail Resorts "has no legal basis to claim priority as to the subject trademark." The filing says Vail Resorts is "not the rightful owner" of the words ‘Park City.’ The words are "rightfully owned by the municipality of Park City," the filing says.
Matt Shier, a co-owner of Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski, said he is optimistic a settlement can be reached allowing the company to continue to operate with its longtime name.
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Vail Resorts has said the application to trademark the words ‘Park City’ is an effort to block another mountain resort from using them in a name.
"We are aware of the opposition filed by Park City Powder Cats & Heli-Ski. We have had friendly discussions with the owner already and are optimistic we can reach an agreement that addresses their concerns," Kristin Kenney Williams, the Vail Resorts vice president over mountain community affairs, said in a statement. "I want to emphasize again that our intent with the trademark application is that the only protection we are looking for is that we do not want another ski mountain in the United States to call themselves Park City."
The opposition filing outlines a schedule lasting through August of 2017 for the case. The schedule includes a discovery phase allowing the sides to learn details about each other’s case, trial periods and a rebuttal period.
City Hall leaders, meanwhile, are expected to address the trademark application at a meeting on June 9. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council spoke briefly about the matter in mid-May, but they were not prepared to hold a detailed discussion at that time. A Vail Resorts official is anticipated to attend the June 9 meeting.