Bicycle empire aims to put the skids on APCHA’s HomeTrek
Trek bikes files notice against name of Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s new inventory-tracking system
One of the world’s largest bicycle makers has a problem with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, and it has nothing to do with bitter evictions, rising rents or rogue tenants.
Attorneys for Trek Bicycle Corp. earlier this month filed public documents alleging the name of APCHA’s new inventory-tracking software will damage the Waterloo, Wisconsin-based company and create confusion in the marketplace.
The May 2 filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office — called a “notice of opposition” — also asked that APCHA’s registration for the HomeTrek trademark be denied by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
“Opposer (to the HomeTrek trademark) has invested substantial amounts of time, effort and money in protecting and policing its TREK trade name in the United States and throughout the world,” said the notice.
City of Aspen attorney Jim True said in an email Tuesday, “We have received the notice of opposition and are preparing a response. At this point, it is our intent to defend the trademark.”
The city has until June 12 to respond, according to the notice.
Chicago attorney Mary Catherine Merz, whose Merz & Associates firm filed the notice, declined comment when reached Tuesday.
APCHA, which operates under an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Pitkin County commissioners, unveiled its $1.4 million HomeTrek system to the public January.
Located at https://hometrek.force.com/s/, the website is a place for people to do most all of their APCHA business online, whether it’s entering an employee-housing lottery, checking on a property tax bill, filing a complaint or a new ownership qualification, and so on.
“What is HomeTrek?” said an APCHA email blast sent Jan. 21. “APCHA’s new automated system that will allow owners, renters, and households to interact with APCHA electronically to complete a variety of functions such as checking the value of your home, viewing ownership units for sale, bidding on a new unit and so much more. Program participants can now perform critical actions safely and securely online, improving the overall customer experience and program accountability.”
APCHA on Oct. 6 filed its trademark application for HomeTrek with the Patent and Trademark Office. In a document dated March 5, the trademark examining attorney wrote that the HomeTrek was in the clear.
“The trademark examining attorney searched the USPTO database of registered and pending marks and found no conflicting marks that would bar registration” under trademark law, the examiner wrote in a filing with the Patent and Trademark Office.
“It did go through all of the stages and it was approved by the trademark office,” said Bethany Spitz, an attorney and enforcement officer for APCHA.
Trek caught wind of APCHA’s pending trademark application when the housing authority made the required public notice about HomeTrek in the April 20 edition of the Trademark Official Gazette, Trek’s notice of opposition said.
As well, Trek said it’s not exclusively in the business of bikes anymore and has more than 40 trademarks with the “Trek” name. That includes “Pro Trek,” “Trek Care,” Trekker,“ ”Trekmates,“ and ”Trek Winery,“ for instance. HomeTrek intrudes on the Trek company’s intellectual property rights, the notice said.
“For nearly 43 years prior to the filing date of the application for the Opposed Mark, Opposer (Trek) adopted and has continuously used its TREK trademark in connection with bicycles and bicycle frames,” the notice said. “Opposer has expanded its trademark use of ’TREK’ to cover numerous additional products and services.”
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Wildlife filmmaker Marty Stouffer, the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, and a downtown bar named after an international drug lord share at least one thing in common, which is navigating through the nuanced world of trademark law and intellectual property.