Carroll: So you wanna use the Aspen name?
The outside world ribs Aspen for being self important, pretentious and overflowing with ego. We’re certainly all of that and have no problem tooting that Aspen horn for all to hear.
We’re not shy of posting photos on social media that we just know will make our flatlander friends a tad jealous, and when The Telegraph rates Aspen better than Vail with a gushing article, we share it on Facebook (at least that’s how I spent 30 seconds of my time on Monday).
Yes, we have enough small-town pride and ego to go around for the rest of the world. But be careful on how you use our name.
Last week, the Aspen Club sued the New York-based Aspen Athletic Club and the Ohio-based Aspen Athletic Club of Health for trademark infringement. The Aspen Club’s federal complaint accuses both workout facilities — both of which are owned by the same person — for creating confusion in the marketplace by using similar names. And, the plaintiff contends in the lawsuit, Aspen Club is a trademarked name.
Intellectual-property law can be very complicated and is rife with nuances, so we’ll let the court sort that one out.
But perhaps it’s time for the Aspen people to band together for a class-action suit against all of the companies out there using the “Aspen” name without any ties to this mountain town — or the tree (in which case it gets a lower-cased “aspen”).
Here’s a sampling of American companies that have diluted the Aspen name:
• Aspen Technology Inc. — This firm is based in Burlington, Mass. The logo? An aspen leaf, of course.
• Aspen University — This online school charges only $250 a month for a bachelor’s degree and $350 for a master’s — roughly the same sum you’d pay to fill up your SUV at the Aspen Store.
• Aspen Comics is based in Culver City, Calif. Its characters surely can’t be as fascinating as Benny the Blade or Emzy Veazy III.
• Aspen Manufacturing — Headquartered in Humble, Texas (which sounds like the anti-Aspen), this firm is a coil and air handler manufacture. Its website features images of snow-covered mountains; clearly Humble, Texas, is a victim of reverse climate change, one can only surmise.
• Other firms using the aspen tree leaf logo include Silverspring, Md.-based employment agency The Aspen Group, as well as San Mateo, Calif.-based software maker ASPEN, which stands for Advanced Systems for Power Engineering.
There are countless others, from the Aspen Group (not to be confused with the previously mentioned The Aspen Group), an Indiana-based firm that specializes in church-focused design, to Albuquerque, N.M.-based Aspen Avionics, as well the energy-efficient firm Aspen Aerogels, which is headquartered in Northborough, Mass. And let’s not forget Aspen Cologne, made by Coty.
But not all products or companies with the Aspen name have struck gold, so to speak.
The beer Aspen Gold once was brewed in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s also the album “Aspen Gold” that was released in 1979 by the Kingston Trio. The album had limited distribution and didn’t chart (which probably means it’s an artistic gem). While those two Aspen Gold products had limited success, we can take solace in the fact that Aspen Gold Realty, which is located in Denver, remains in business.
Other Aspen flops include Chrysler Aspen luxury SUV, which lasted on the market for all of two years. And the once-coveted website, Aspen.com, apparently hasn’t had any fresh content for about two years.
Let the world say what they want about us, and by all means, go ahead and jump on our prestigious coattails. But if you’re going to wear out our name like a cheap ski bib, all we ask is that you tell us where the roundabout is, name your favorite run, define the term “Quiet Years,” apply for the city’s food-tax rebate, pay Aspen rent for a month, attend at least one fundraiser, act too cool to acknowledge a celebrity sighting, let people know how long you’ve lived here, argue with a local about the philosophy behind affordable housing and/or legalized marijuana, get bitten by an unleashed dog on Smuggler and respectfully remind people that “Dumb and Dumber” was not filmed in Aspen.
Pass that test, and the Aspen name is all yours.
Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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