Anton Oparin /
10 October 2014Trademarks

Utah and Colorado in skiing trademark battle

Salt Lake City’s tourism agency could be left out in the cold after becoming embroiled in a trademark row with a Colorado-based ski resort.

Steamboat Ski Resort claims the new 'Ski City USA' slogan being used by the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Salt Lake (VSL), is too similar to its own 'Ski Town, U.S.A' trademark.

The lawsuit, filed at the US District Court for the District of Denver, also targets the Snowbird, Alta, Solitude and Brighton ski areas, which are a short drive from the Utah-based Salt Lake City and promoted by VSL.

Steamboat is claiming unspecified damages and a share of any profits VSL makes from the name and its marketing campaign.

In the lawsuit, Steamboat said the states of Colorado and Utah “compete directly in the outdoor industry, and in particular, in the winter sports industry”.

It added that the ‘Ski Town, U.S.A’ trademark has been used to protect a variety of classes since as early as 1959.

“Through long and widespread use, the ‘Ski Town, U.S.A’ marks are widely recognised by the public as brand identifiers for plaintiffs’ goods/services and have developed extensive goodwill in the market,” the complaint said.

According to the complaint, the slogan used by Salt Lake City, launched last month, has been used to lure skiers away from Colorado.

“The mark ‘Ski City USA’ is similar in sight, sound, and meaning to plaintiff’s ‘Ski Town, U.S.A’,” it said.

“Upon information and belief, VSL deliberately chose to use the mark in connection with its sale of ski-related goods/services in order to trade on plaintiff’s established goodwill in the relevant market.”

Rob Perlman, a spokesman for Steamboat, said VSL had “clearly infringed” its trademark and that the Colorado-based resort felt obliged to take action to protect it.

“Steamboat Ski Resort is well known around the globe as Ski Town, U.S.A, and the VSL campaign creates confusion and tries to take advantage of our registered trademark for its own commercial purposes," he added.

But VSL spokesman Shawn Stinson said there was a clear distinction between the two marks.

"Ski City USA celebrates and promotes the fact that there is a distinct alternative to the ski town experience," Stinson said.

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