PCMR abruptly ends trademark bid, delighting opponents
July 19, 2016
Park City Mountain Resort and owner Vail Resorts on Saturday abruptly withdrew a federal trademark application for the words "Park City" as they apply to a ski area, an unexpected turnabout amid widespread opposition to the bid to trademark the name of the community.
The decision to withdraw the application was made as City Hall, the County Courthouse, businesses that use the Park City moniker and rank-and-file Parkites pressed the Colorado firm to drop the trademark efforts. The formal submittal to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to withdraw the application as made just days after Vail Resorts executives met privately at the Marsac Building with Park City leaders. Critics of the trademark application demonstrated outside the building as the meeting was held.
City Hall was one of the entities that was considering mounting a formal opposition to the trademark application. Park City officials were also preparing to discuss whether to continue discussions with Vail Resorts about a partnership that is expected to put public monies into a parking garage and other improvements at PCMR.
PCMR on Saturday released a prepared statement attributed to Bill Rock, the chief operating officer of the resort, explaining the decision to withdraw the application. He noted the application was initially filed by Powdr Corp., the former owner of PCMR, and it is "common within the ski industry" to obtain trademarks.
He also mentioned the opposition in the community, which reached a crescendo in the last week during the demonstration. There were also dozens of individuals or businesses considering formal oppositions with the Patent and Trademark Office.
The opposition to the trademark application involved a range of government figures, businesspeople and private citizens. There was concern that Vail Resorts could someday move against the many businesses that use the name of the city in their own monikers if the trademark was granted. Vail Resorts, though, said that would not be the case and indicated it would formally agree not to take action against the other businesses. The dispute also led to displeasure with the idea of a corporation holding a trademark for the name of the city.
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"We have tried to assure the community that this registration would not negatively impact other businesses and we do believe that there has been some misunderstandings and misinformation about the trademark registration. That said, this has clearly become a distraction that is pulling our collective focus away from the important work that lies ahead for our city on critical issues, such as affordable housing, parking and transit among others," Rock said in the statement.
He also said PCMR will update signs "to address any local confusion about the difference between the resort and the municipality."
Mayor Jack Thomas also released a prepared statement, praising the various figures involved in the trademark debate and saying he is "proud of the civil and constructive comments from the public and stakeholders . . ." He noted the efforts of the County Courthouse, a group that organized during the discussions known as Future Park City and Dana Williams, who preceded Thomas as mayor and was one of the leading opponents of the trademark application.
“Our strong relationship with both of our ski resorts has been and will continue to be critical to our success," Thomas said in the statement. “We look forward to getting back to the important work we are doing with both resort partners on the City Council's critical priorities of transportation, housing and energy.”
One of the founders of Future Park City, Angela Moschetta, praised the move by Vail Resorts to end the trademark efforts.
"The community has been heard and Vail is taking a step in the right direction," she said.
Moschetta said she wants PCMR signs to differentiate the resort from the community itself and take steps to address the issue of brand confusion.
Williams, meanwhile, said he is "ecstatic." He cautioned, though, PCMR will continue to market itself under the Park City moniker even without a trademark. Williams said he wants PCMR referred to as a resort in local, national and international marketing efforts.
"This wasn't just a business deal. For a lot of people in the community it went right to their soul," the former mayor said.