Park City, the name, seen as ‘inalienable right’ of businesses
May 17, 2016
Ron Balbis, a co-owner and the general manager of Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski, would like the company to continue to operate with its name as it is now, with the words "Park City" prominently in the moniker.
The company, founded in 1993, operates ski outings on approximately 43,000 acres of privately held terrain east of Oakley. The "Park City" part of the name is critical to the company, Balbis said in an interview.
Balbis and others with the words "Park City" as a part of their business name appear to be concerned about a move by Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts to secure a trademark for those words. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is considering an application from the Colorado firm for the words "Park City" in relation to a skiing and snowboarding operation. The application has drawn attention and is expected to be addressed at an upcoming Park City Council meeting.
"Does that mean everything (with) Park City, they have the right to say "Yes’ or ‘No,’" Balbis said, adding, "I would hate to lose the name ‘Park City.’ It would be tough to have to change our name."
Balbis noted that his company offers skiing services and could have "more to worry about than most businesses" with the trademark efforts by Vail Resorts.
There are dozens of businesses with the words "Park City" in their names representing a wide range of sectors. Many of them have been operating for a decade or more. There is a grocery store, a pizza restaurant, a pet groomer, a locksmith, a sign company, an orthodontics office and an eye care center, as examples. There are also not-for-profits and government facilities that use "Park City."
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Vail Resorts wants to trademark the words "Park City" in an effort to block another operator of a mountain resort from using them in their name, an executive from the firm said in a statement describing the trademark application. Kristin Williams, the vice president of mountain community affairs for Vail Resorts, said in the statement the company understands there are many businesses in the Park City area that use the name of the city and the trademark, if granted, would not impact those businesses.
Still, though, there appears to be enough concern for Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council to address the issue. The elected officials briefly discussed the matter at a recent meeting and are expected to talk in more depth about the trademark application later. It is likely City Hall staffers will prepare a report about the application prior to the upcoming discussion, which had not been scheduled by early in the week.
Some businesses that are named after the city did not have enough information by early in the week to discuss the trademark application while others, like Park City Powdercats & Heli Ski, had questions or concerns. Still others did not appear to be worried.
Park City Title Company opened in 1990 and has used the words "Park City" since it was founded. Nari Trotter, the owner, said the name of the city "should sort of belong to everybody."
"It is an inalienable right to use the name of the town," Trotter said.
She said it is "unfortunate" that a business would put its interests above those of the community.
Another business, called Park City Rental Properties, said it would be difficult for the firm if it was unable to use the words "Park City." Owner Jim Bizily said Park City Rental Properties has used the name for approximately 15 years. Having "Park City" in the name is important in boosting Internet traffic, he said.
"Park City’s the name of a town. I don’t know how they would trademark a name of a town," Bizily said. "It would be kind of devastating for everything we’ve worked on."
Others, though, did not have similar concerns, saying their businesses have existed for many years. Mike Holm, the owner of the Market at Park City, a grocery store, said the business is established. Gordon Cummins, an executive at the transportation firm All Resort Group, said one of its brands, Park City Transportation, is already a trademarked name. Cummins said he sees no differences from a previous owner of PCMR.
"I personally don’t understand what the big deal is," Cummins said, acknowledging that he did not have detailed information about the trademark move by Vail Resorts.
In a prepared statement in response to a Park Record inquiry about the impact of the trademark application on businesses, Williams reiterated the assertion that the trademark is meant to guard against another mountain resort opening with a similar name.
"As we’ve said previously, we know that many other businesses use ‘Park City’ in the name of their businesses and that will continue without change whether or not the government grants our registration. We have no intent, nor do we believe the registration would give us the right, to interfere with local businesses that use ‘Park City’ in their names," she said. "Vail Resorts owns registered trademarks for both VAIL and BRECKENRIDGE in connection with the mountain resort services and we do not try to prevent the many businesses in those communities from using the town names as part of the names of their businesses."