Champagne powder? No such thing in Aspen
ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen Skiing Co. would love to boast about all the light, fluffy champagne powder that fell last week, but it can’t.
Steamboat ski area has a trademark on the phrase “champagne powder” and uses is heavily in its marketing materials. The ski area is currently letting skier and riders know they are “serving up over 12 feet of champagne powder snow this winter.”
The company isn’t afraid to rebuff infringements on the term it registered for exclusive use about 10 years ago, according to spokesman Michael Lane. It’s concerned about other ski areas using the phrase, not casual use among skiers. When Steamboat’s attorneys spot infringements, they send letters informing the unauthorized users about the trademark and order them to refrain.
Aspen Skiing Co.’s public relations and marketing departments are well aware of the competitor’s turf, spokesman Jeff Hanle said.
“When we get new people in they want to say ‘We’ve got champagne powder,'” he said. ” I tell them ‘We can’t say that.'”
Trademarks in the ski industry, and throughout most of the business world, are a dime a dozen. New marketing campaigns and brand-imaging efforts pop up frequently on TV.
“Just as companies work to distinguish themselves and their products from one another, resorts use specific phrases as part of their name and image,” said Jennifer Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry trade association.
Skico has a trademark on its “Power of Four” tag line, for example. The phrase is a centerpiece in its marketing efforts to stress the diversity of its four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas.
Less apparent in Skico’s marketing is the trademark phrase “Epic runs everyday” ” not to be confused with Vail’s trademark of “epic” for its Epic Pass.
The Skico also has also registered the phrase “Mountain Town” ” not to be confused with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s registration of the phrase “Ski Town USA.”
Skico attorney Dave Bellack said the “Aspen” name was trademarked for marketing purposes in 1949 by a forward-looking group that apparently saw the town’s rosy future. Trademarks of geographic places are no longer allowed, he said. The trademark has been handed down to successors, and the Skico maintains an agreement to use Aspen in its marketing efforts.
The Skico owns rights to the aspen leaf it uses as the Aspen/Snowmass logo and occasionally must block infringements by copycat products, Bellack said.
Just for the record, Skico would welcome infringements on ill-fated marketing phrases it used for a brief time several years ago. The company has no trademark on “Uncrowded by Design” and has no plans to pursue one, Hanle said.