Suit: Aspen gyms’ logos create unhealthy competition
Ryan Summerlin March 24, 2014
The Aspen Club has filed a lawsuit claiming that two gyms bearing similar names have violated federal trademark law.
A 30-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Denver asks a judge to order both the New York-based Aspen Athletic Club LLC and Ohio-based Aspen Athletic Club of Health LLC to cease and desist “using, advertising, marketing, promoting or offering or making any other use of the mark ASPEN in connection with the offering of health club or fitness center services ….” Through the suit, the Aspen Club also is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for lost profits from the alleged trademark infringement.
The complaint comes after the Aspen Club had reached an agreement with the Ohio club that it would stop using “Aspen” in connection with its services, the suit says. But the Ohio club hasn’t complied with the deal, adding a “mountain design feature to its logo, making confusion between Aspen Fitness Centers and Aspen Club marks even more likely,” the suit says.
The suit also alleges that the U.S Patent and Trademark Office denied Aspen Fitness Clubs’ application for a trademark in August 2012 because of the likelihood of potential confusion with the Aspen Club mark.
“The Aspen Club is a really important business in our community and has spent a lot of time and resources investing in that trademark.”
Nicole Polos, who owns and operates the clubs, did not return a telephone message seeking comment for this story.
Aspen attorney Jill Teehan, who filed the suit Tuesday on behalf of the Aspen Club, said the two health clubs — both of which have the same owner — have tarnished and diluted the Aspen Club brand by using both mountain logos and aspen leaf images.
“The Aspen Club is a really important business in our community and has spent a lot of time and resources investing in that trademark,” she said Friday. “They’ve done what they’re supposed to do by filing with the U.S. Trademark Office and maintaining those rights.”
The lawsuit notes that the Aspen Club was started in 1976, currently has 1,524 active members, 600 of whom reside outside of Aspen. It costs $2,000 to join the club, with monthly fees of $190, the suit says.
The Aspen Club obtained a federally licensed trademark for its name in 2001, and the “Aspen” name is integral to the club’s brand, which feeds off the Aspen resort town’s reputation, the suit says.
“Aspen, Colorado, is widely known for its skiing, athletics and sports activities, and its healthy and focused lifestyle,” the suit says. “Many world-class athletes hail from Aspen, Colorado, and the population overall is known for being fit and athletic. Aspen, Colorado is also widely known as, and is, a place where the rich and famous from all over the United States and abroad vacation, including on a repeat and regular basis, and own second (or third) vacation homes.”
The suit also notes Aspen’s notoriety has been “featured in many top hit movies, including ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘Aspen Extreme,’” and that much of the “success of the Aspen Club has been based, in part, on the exclusivity of the Aspen Club in association with the town of Aspen and its healthy, fit lifestyle.”
Additionally, the suit says “because Aspen is such a famous tourism and fitness destination, consumers are likely to be lured into thinking that fitness clubs out of Aspen, Colorado, must be affiliated with the Aspen Club in Colorado.”