Customers don’t like trademark bullies.
Jonathan Nielsen, the CEO of Backcountry.com, LLC learned that lesson the hard way.
As of this writing,* there are over two dozen registrations that include the word BACKCOUNTRY for various outdoor related goods and services that do NOT belong to Backcountry.com.
When you have a trademark like BACKCOUNTRY for outdoor gear and retail sales of outdoor gear, you have to accept that companies in that space are going to use pretty similar marks for pretty similar goods and services. It’s just not that strong a trademark.
Despite that, Backcountry.com started opposing applications, trying to get registrations cancelled and filing lawsuits against companies they thought were infringing.
The consumers in that market started noticing.
Social media blew up.
Then, miraculously, Mr. Nielsen did the right thing.
He published a letter to the outdoor community acknowledging that his company “took certain actions that . . . were not consistent with [his company’s] values . . ..” Mr. Nielsen pledged to “reexamine our broader approach to trademarks to ensure we are treating others in a way that is consistent with the culture and values envisioned by our founders and embraced by our community.”
Way to go, Mr. Nielsen. We can’t get everything right all the time, but we can apologize, and get things right the second time.
*December 2, 2019.