Backcountry.com sues anyone who uses its namesake. Is it bullying or just business?
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.
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