Loyal “goat” fans are outraged over a string of lawsuits filed by Backcountry.com against dozens of small businesses for using the word “backcountry” to describe their brand, products, and services.
According to a report from the Colorado Sun, Backcountry.com filed for its first service mark in 2004 and secured a trademark for the name in 2007.
Among the businesses sued by Backcountry.com is Backcountry Babes, a women’s outdoor adventure company that specializes in backcountry ski trips and avalanche safety courses in Colorado, California, British Columbia, Japan, and more. The large online retailer has also sued at least one other brand over the use of a mountain goat, which is the basis for the Backcountry.com logo.
Backcountry.com is an online retailer for outdoor gear including snow sports, hiking, camping, paddling, biking, climbing, trail running, fly fishing, rock climbing, and much more. The company was originally founded in 1996 in an area of Park City, Utah. Backcountry.com also operates four additional online specialty stores including Competitive Cyclist, MotoSport.com, Steep&Cheap, and Bergfreunde.de, which is based out of Germany.
According to a report from KUNR, many of the lawsuits have already resulted in companies dropping the use of the word “backcountry” or changing their names entirely.
It’s unclear why the lawsuits were filed by Backcountry.com in the first place. The company declined to comment. While there is no clear response so far, the large online retailer recently released a promotional offer of 20% off one full-price item now until November 12, 2019.
According to trademark database Justia, 316 businesses consisting of makers of outdoor gear, pet food, binoculars, board games, dog toys, snowshoes, coffee, and yoga classes use the word “backcountry.”
The brand was slammed on social media for targeting dozens of small businesses, non-profits, and organizations with lawsuits. One customer posted, “I have been a happy and satisfied customer, but can no longer support your company with my dollars. Suing small businesses just for using the COMMON word “Backcountry” is just unacceptable.”
Another customer shared her disappointment on social media saying, “As a longtime customer (first purchase in 2000) and avid backcountry user, I find it disgraceful that you are bullying other companies over the use of the word. I will no longer be supporting your company or purchasing products from your website.”
The real burning question remains: Did Backcountry.com take it one step too far? Who really owns the “backcountry” anyways?
One business that feels strongly about the issue decided to take a stance. Marquette Backcountry Ski has decided to fight the lawsuit filed by Backcountry.com, describing the company’s actions as abusive and against all the ethics and standards of the outdoor community.
A GoFundMe Page has been set up to help support the legal defense of Marquette Backcountry Ski and other small businesses with a $200,000 goal. All remaining costs will be donated to bigcitymountaineers.org. A “Boycott Backcountry.com” Facebook group has also been set up.
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