Written by: Savannah Traynor
Online retailer Backcountry.com has been facing outrage from the outdoor community after an aggressive trademark enforcement campaign.
The Colorado-based retailer, which sells outdoor clothing and recreation gear online, has been enforcing its rights to the word BACKCOUNTRY. This includes suing small businesses such as Backcountry Denim, Backcountry eBikes, Snapperhead Inventions LLC for its Marquette Backcountry Ski, and avalanche safety course Backcountry Babes.
Most of the suits have been settled in court, which has led to very costly rebranding for Backcountry Denim (now BDCo) and Backcountry eBikes (now Bakcou).
After news broke of the retail giant suing small local retailers for infringement, the outdoor community was incensed. A Facebook group titled "Boycott BackcountryDOTcom" was created. Hashtags such as #boycottbackcountry started up on Twitter.
Community members argue that trademarking backcountry is like trademarking “camping” or “mountains.”
Backcountry.com responded to the heat in an open letter on their website. Jonathan Nielsen, Backcountry.com's CEO, writes: "In an attempt to protect the brand we have been building for nearly 25 years, we took certain actions that we now recognize were not consistent with our values, and we truly apologize."
Although Backcountry.com was completely within its rights to enforce its trademark, the backlash has been significant. This is likely due to the fact that Backcountry.com was seen as a company geared towards “real people who are blending the outdoors with the everyday,” and the litigation was seen as contrary to their values.
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