Backcountry.com mostly delivering on reparations one year after trademark bullying
Emily Hargraves last year was certain she was going to close Backcountry Babes, her 22-year-old business. Backcountry.com was suing her in federal court because she had secured a trademark for her company, which offers tours, clinics and avalanche training for women.
When news broke last November that the e-commerce giant had for several years been suing small businesses, like Hargrave’s, for registering and trademarking the word “backcountry,” the Utah-based company weathered blistering criticism. Eventually, Backcountry.com dropped its lawsuits, fired its trademark attorneys and launched a nationwide effort to make reparations.
Then-chief executive Jonathan Nielsen reached out to Hargraves in November last year and asked what she needed — as he did for many of the dozens of brands that were sued.
Hargraves said there were too few women qualified to teach and guide in avalanche terrain. Nielsen proposed a deal. Hargraves got to keep the name of her company and Backcountry.com would fund multi-year scholarships to Backcountry Babes guides to pursue instructor qualification with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education and guide certification with the American Mountain Guides Association.
Hargraves said 10 women are now going through the intensive, multi-year programs thanks to several thousand dollars in support from the e-tail behemoth, which is owned by private equity firm TSG Partners.
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