Alpine Bank smokes out Alpine Dank, lawsuit dismissed
June 9, 2011
DENVER – The separation of bank and dank is now complete.
Alpine Bank’s lawsuit against Alpine Dank and its founder was quietly dismissed last month in the U.S. District Court of Denver. The dismissal comes after the Glenwood Springs-based bank, which has locations throughout the Western Slope, sued Alpine Dank and Jeffrey Lessard for trademark violation and other federal claims, alleging the marijuana dispensary had created confusion in the marketplace.
“I think they just recognized it was futile to try and do anything against a registered trademark,” said Bob Young, chairman of Alpine Banks, on Wednesday. “We didn’t want to be identified closely with a medical marijuana shop and they [Alpine Dank and Lessard] didn’t feel like pursuing it and elected to go another way.”
A phone message left for Lessard, who once oversaw pot shops in Basalt and Telluride, was not returned Wednesday.
The lawsuit, filed April 1, alleged Lessard was behind Alpine Dank and Alpine Dank Edibles LLC. Alpine Dank, in its logo, used the identical font that Alpine Bank uses with its corporate logo. And instead of using a tree in its logo like Alpine Bank does, Alpine Dank employed a marijuana leaf, according to the suit, which sought a court injunction to stop Lessard from using the pot-fused name for his business.
As of Wednesday, the website alpinedank.com was dormant, unlike at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, when it was operational and advertised its products that ranged from Alpine Dank T-shirts to coffee mugs.
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In fact, Young said a couple of weeks ago he encountered an Alpine Dank product for the first time. He was having breakfast at Village Smithy Restaurant in Carbondale when he spotted someone wearing an Alpine Dank T-shirt.
“You see everything at the Smithy so I wasn’t surprised,” he said with a laugh. “We just hope they go away and do well with their business, and not impact ours.”
Young said the bank has more pressing issues, and “this isn’t something we wanted to put a lot of money or interest into, but we did want to protect our image and to ensure there was no more confusion.”
Alpine Bank’s suit, which was officially dismissed May 23, claimed its reputation was damaged because of Alpine Dank. The suit argued that that the Alpine Dank moniker “is confusingly similar to the Alpine Bank mark in terms of appearance, sound and meaning. The name Alpine Dank is identical to the mark Alpine Bank, with the exception of the first letter of the second word.”
On March 8 – three weeks before the suit was filed – Lessard had written to Alpine Bank, in response to a notice he’d received telling him to cease and desist using the Alpine Dank name.
In his letter, Lessard argued “Alpine Dank has spent several years building a brand that is quite different from that of Alpine Bank. The word Alpine is certainly not owned by Alpine Bank and in fact is a prized word use by many high country businesses throughout Colorado. The word Dank is used in the marijuana industry to describe the quality of products whether it’s marijuana or the products associated with it therein. The fact that bank and dank are similar and they even rhyme is merely a coincidence that I’m sure your client regrets not being able to have been present for, when the English language was first being created.”
Alpine Bank’s suit was filed by Denver law firm Sheridan Ross PC. The lead attorney in the case, Todd P. Blakely, declined comment.