On the hill: No trade-marked Champagne Powder (snow) here in Aspen
January 20, 2010
ASPEN – Apparently Aspen doesn’t have any Champagne Powder TM snow, and it’s not because of the lack of it.I was informed via a “cease and desist” letter on Jan. 4 from the lawyer who represents Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. that we at The Aspen Times can’t use the words “champagne” and “powder” together because the resort has trademarked the term, which was used in a headline a few days earlier.John Maas, corporate counsel for Steamboat, said the resort has used the coined phrase since the early 1960s and enjoys common law rights on the mark. He goes on to say that Steamboat owns a pending federal application to register the mark, and it has been allowed for registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.So as a result, I’m supposed to ALWAYS capitalize the term as “CHAMPAGNE POWDER” or “Champagne Powder” and follow it with the TM symbol, as well as the word “snow.””The snow conditions at locations other than the Steamboat Ski Resort may be described as ‘powder,’ ‘packed powder,’ etc., but not as champagne powder,” Maas wrote, and he didn’t capitalize either word or use the TM symbol.Are you frickin’ kidding me? My first response was why the hell did steamboat (lower case on purpose) claim that phrase when it doesn’t have any slopes steep enough to ski CHAMPAGNE POWDER TM “snow”?But it has got me to thinking: If Steamboat has CHAMPAGNE POWDER TM “snow,” then what does Aspen have? Better Powder? Cristal Powder? Dom Perignon Powder? Sniffing Powder? Cocaine Powder? If Miller is the “champagne” of beers, maybe Aspen’s snow is Miller Powder? While we’re at it, what about other Colorado clichs like “bluebird skies?” Can we not string those two words together either? Has Vail fenced that phrase off, too? What do those two words mean together anyway?We need our own damn trademark. I’m fielding suggestions. So far, I’ve gotten “Aspen: Powder days and powder nights TM,” “Aspen’s powder is better than steamboat’s CHAMPAGNE POWDER TM ‘snow'” and finally, given the lack of recent storms: “Aspen: NO POWDER TM ‘snow!'”If you’ve got any better ideas, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.