It’s interesting watching the battle brewing over Vail’s trademark application of the words “Park City.” According to the Park Record, over 50 entities have, or are preparing to, challenge Vail’s trademark application. As long time readers will note, the Park Rag created a website in January called parkcitysucks.com when we became fed up with the confusion over reading the term “Park City” in the Park Record.
About a month later I had the chance to sit down with Bill Rock, Park City COO (the Vail Park City COO) and Kristen Kenney Williams, Vice President of Vail’s Mountain Community Affairs group. They explained Vail’s position that they had altered their trademark application from something very broad (i.e. almost anything to do with any business in Park City) to something more narrow (Vail doesn’t want another ski resort to be called Park City). They did a good job of convincing me that they would not “go after” a local business using the Park City name. I specifically asked if I could open up a business called “Park City Ski Shop” without worry of legal issues from Vail. They assured me it wouldn’t be a problem. So, I left that meeting feeling better on the trademark issue.
Leaving the meeting, I still had concerns over Vail using the term Park City in marketing. They told me that locally they were shifting advertising to use the words “Park City Mountain” but that nationally and globally they would refer to themselves as Park City. This frankly worried me more than the trademark issue. We are a community that depends on tourism. Having our name linked to an outside company, at some point, will not be a good thing. Something will happen to Vail and it will reflect negatively on our town, because the resort and town share the same name. It’s not an if scenario… but a when.
Now we are months on, and it looks like formal opposition is rising against Vail on the topic. Again, I for one believe Mr Rock and Ms Williams have no intention of trying to prevent any local business from using the Park City name. However, they may not stay in their positions forever and once they are gone, their “words” may not hold as much weight as the desire of the Vail legal team to try and enforce an action against the use of the words Park City. Again, as stated on parkcitysucks.com, I would love for Vail to assign any rights to the trademark “Park City” to Park City Municipal and have the city license the use of the trademark back to Vail (in perpetuity) for the sole use of the name as a ski resort. It would alleviate so many concerns.
That said, I read about the Park City government’s potential objection to the trademark application with a little chagrin. One of the things that Mr Rock and Ms. Williams made sure I understood was that this trademark was initiated by Powder Corp in 2014. It came into Vail’s possession as part of the sale of PCMR. Powder Corp’s trademark application attempted to trademark everything from skiing, to ski shops, to restaurants, to golf and the list goes on. So, where was Park City Municipal and the city council back then? Were they asleep at the wheel, were they turning a blind eye, or did they just miss it? Would it have been Ok for the Cumming family to own “Park City”? It seems strange that they would not have been fighting this from the beginning.
I see why local businesses may challenge the trademark application. You never know what the future will bring and as they say, speak now or forever hold your peace. I guess I also understand why Park City government is now looking at fighting this. However, what I really wonder is where were they in 2014? Perhaps they did file an objection back then… but I doubt it. The better question is why not?