Business Monday: Alterra Mountain Co., entrepreneur at odds over ‘Ikon’ trademark
The upcoming debut of the Ikon Pass from the newly created Alterra Mountain Co. is intended to spur competition with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, but it’s also shaken loose an entrepreneur who claims his intellectual-property rights have been violated.
Carbondale resident Cary Thompson, founder of Glenwood Springs-based Ride In Harmony Athletics, a ski and snowboard instruction program, recently sent a cease-and-desist notice to Alterra — which is co-owned by Henry Crown and Co., also owners of Aspen Skiing Co. — and its partners.
Thompson claims he holds the rights to the use of the word “icon” or any of its derivatives, such as “Ikon” being used by Alterra. Alterra, however, says it had the term “Ikon” federally trademarked in November.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online database, Alterra registered for the “Ikon” trademark on Nov. 3. It is considered a “live trademark,” according to the office, which means Alterra has filed the necessary documents to federally register “Ikon.”
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“It’s been federally registered,” said David Perry, a former Skico executive and now president and chief operating officer of Alterra, last week. “There are no issues with it.”
Upon receiving Thompson’s cease-and-desist letter in April, Alterra responded with its own cease-and-desist letter to Thompson on May 11, Perry said.
“He has taken the liberty of sending this letter to a number of our partners about the Ikon trademark,” Perry said, noting that Alterra is now demanding that Thompson stop using “Ikon” and its derivatives through his business programming. Perry said Alterra would not have taken such measures had Thompson not sent the letters to Alterra and its partners.
Henry Crown and Co. and affiliates of KSL Capital Partners combined to acquire Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts and Deer Valley Resort in 2017. In January, the joint venture was named Alterra Mountain Co.; the following month the new company announced the rollout of the Ikon Pass, an $899 package providing unlimited access to 12 ski areas and up to seven days at 13 additional destinations. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk are included in the package.
Thompson said he believes Alterra should stop its use of “Ikon” because it is being used through his federally trademarked brand Ride the Snow in Harmony, as well as another one of his brands, What Animal Are You? He said he also filed for an “Ikon Pass” trademark in Colorado.
“We’ve used ‘icon’ in our online presentations since at least 2012. Our brands, and product are identified with icons, images that make lessons easy to recall,” Thompson said in an email responding to questions from The Aspen Times. “They are the underpinning of RIDE THE SNOW IN HARMONY®, and WHAT ANIMAL ARE YOU?® federally registered trademarks. The law requires that those have to be defended as well, so we’ve filed trademarks on IKON PASS in Colorado, using words available to the public where necessary to describe our product, to protect RIDE IN HARMONY?/WHAT ANIMAL ARE YOU?, its unique character, and grow the brand.”
Thompson once was a Skico employee and said he was fired from his instructor job because of his “innovative teaching methods.”
So far he had not hired an attorney but suggested he will.
“We’ll be crowdfunding legal fees, if necessary to keep our rights and presence in the industry intact,” Thompson said.
Perry played down the dispute.
“He’s doing what he’s doing for whatever reasons he’s chosen,” Perry said. “And we’ve just told him to stop.”
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