Vail Daily editorial: A good move
July 19, 2016
The value of a trademarked name can be hard to define. In some cases, there can be as much value in a well-established name as in the product itself. Then there's the sticky wicket Vail Resorts found itself in last week.
The Park Record, a sister paper to the Vail Daily, last week reported a good bit of local anger over an attempt to trademark the name "Park City." That federal trademark application was actually submitted by Powdr, the previous owner of the Park City Mountain Resort ski area, but the effort was continued by Vail Resorts, which now owns the resort.
Trademarking place names is nothing new in the corporate world. Vail is a trademark. So is Breckenridge.
Still, a number of people in and around Park City, including several elected officials, took exception to the idea of the name of a 135-year-old town becoming one more piece of corporate messaging.
Following a private meeting between town officials and Vail Resorts executives late last week, it didn't take long for the resort company to announce the withdrawal of the trademark application.
On one hand, the public outcry seems misplaced. Again, Breckenridge is a trademarked name, and the community there seems to have retained much of its identity.
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On the other, it's understandable for many in Park City to be wary of the new corporate owners of the ski area. Vail Resorts is a very big dog in the kennel of mountain resort operators. Without much history between the community and the company, it's not at all surprising that some residents would view virtually any corporate action with suspicion. There are people in this valley who hold the same suspicious views of the company almost 20 years after the company issued its first common stock.
Given the still-fresh relationship between Vail Resorts and the Park City community, company executives made the right call in withdrawing the trademark application. There are bigger issues for the company and the community to work on in the coming months and years.
No matter what Vail Resorts does, the company in a company town will always weather both legitimate and half-baked criticism. Staying out of an avoidable fight in a new community is one way for the company to stay focused on larger goals — and, perhaps, to earn a bit of goodwill.
Still, don't be surprised if Vail Resorts ultimately puts a registered trademark on some sort of Park City-related name in the not-too-distant future.
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