Backcountry Magazine CEO Responds to Backcountry.com Lawsuits

This was supposed to be the week we announced our new Backcountry Podcast and prepared for our annual community fundraiser, the Barn Bash, to get more kids on snow. Instead it was spent not sleeping, fielding calls from friends, family, readers, employees and colleagues wondering if we’re being sued by Backcountry.com like so many small companies in the outdoor industry. Any week spent talking to attorneys is not a good week.

But here’s the thing: We’ve been in business since 1994 and our trademark to operate as a media business is strong. These rights are reflected in a registration obtained from the USPTO in 2001, Registration #2433065. This registration was filed in 1999 and reflects trademark usage at least as early as September 1994.

Backcountry Magazine and Height of Land Publications CEO Adam Howard.

So, to date, we’ve received no certified letter nor do we expect to. To be clear, there are many organizations large and small that are using “backcountry” in the general field of outdoor recreation services and products. But our readers are thoughtful and discriminating about the source of the services and products they use (their lives can depend upon it), and so far we have not encountered any real confusion about our trademark. So, have we ever thought of suing? Not once. But, then, we’re owned by a bunch of ski bums, myself included. I used to work for the late John Bresee, one of the founders of Backcountry.com, and he understood this (Please see an email below from him about our magazine in 2014, not long after he’d left Backcountry.com).

We do not do business with Backcountry.com. Our values are simply not aligned at this time. We don’t want to take money for advertising from them while they are taking divisive legal actions against so many of our colleagues in this close-knit industry.

I do have one request of the community that’s been so good to us and our other brands, Alpinist, Cross Country Skier and Mountain Flyer: Let’s continue to be good to one another. There are good people working at Backcountry.com, and the rank and file there has been hammered this week. Please be respectful of these people. Collectively you’ve had an impact. A message has seemingly been heard by leadership at Backcountry.com that this big city, corporate way of doing business will not work here.

Finally, remember the little guys out there. Support your local shops and the companies that supply them.

We’re celebrating our 25th birthday this year! We couldn’t have come this far without all of you.

Respectfully,

Howie

Adam Howard
President
Backcountry Magazine
Jeffersonville, Vt.

Email from John Bresee, December 13, 2014:

Adam,

I rarely take the time to praise the people who impress me…much to my detriment. But after watching Backountry’s [sic] growth I just had to say something.

You and your team are killing it and producing an incredible magazine. After working in the industry I had lost the excitement of getting a ski magazine; now that thrill [sic] is back.

I wanted to recognize not just the editorial side, who are clearly excellent but also the business and administration group. I know full well how hard it is to grow a business and keep it great and you guys just keep doing it.

I’m just really proud and impressed with your organization.

Keep ripping,

John Bresee

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Comments

  1. Rocco Russo says:

    This is 100% what I expect from an outdoors related business. Much respect for you sharing your thoughts.

  2. So Much Respect Howie – Thanks man, for keeping it real. See you in the backcountry.

    • I am becoming a subscriber.
      Cannot believe they are beating on you for the use of a sacred description of God’s country, owned by everyone who goes there to enjoy the bliss of frozen smoke, wearing great skiis or gear they found , and after read your inspired stories. Jerks.
      After 50 years of inbound skiing, we finally made the leap and did some cat skiing at Big Red Cats. Your magazine was where I found our amazing DPS skiis, and got up the steam to experience the bliss of guided back country powder.
      Cheers, Marilyn from Toronto

  3. lars strong says:

    I am a subscriber. Thank you for sharing your views.

  4. Shaun McNealey says:

    Its absolutely egregious that backcountry.com/steap and cheap (same folks) would start suing…..
    Their values are aligned with the devil….
    I will continue to shop the small, local shops whatever region I’m in…. always have…. I need them there… the service and the knowledge combined with the – live in concert experiance – of genuine human interaction is absolute gold in life….
    ….. just look at their logo…. it’s a goat, nothing says satin like a goat logo.
    Not to be over dramatic but I’ve chucked my bc t-shirt and peeled the goat logos of my truck and the company toolboxes. The bad bc didn’t even sui for the stoppage of the word backcountry….. they were trying to crush the home teams for cash…. cash that would choke them out…..

  5. As I was looking at my most recent issue of BackCountry this morning I was wondering what was going to happen with the whole bc.com kerfluffle! Excellent letter Mr. Howard! Go get’em tiger!

  6. Good words well written! Than you.

  7. Scott Dinhofer says:

    great post! Especially about shopping small and local, as well as to remind people that when communicating with staff at BCDC to ask them nicely to pass your thoughts on to management. these are people who really do take pride in having a “real job” that allows them to pursue a BC lifestyle.

  8. Thanks for that Howie! I have been subscribing “since times immemorial” and i wanted to let you know that, in a time where connectedness is rarely real, and business rarely fails to disappoint with dum greed, it is refreshing to hear your perspective.
    Let us all remain calm and keep skiing!

  9. Dickie Hall says:

    Well said Howie.

    • Randolph Pierce says:

      Thanks Howie for being a sane voice in insane times. Heavy-handed tactics by corporate bullies have no place in the backcountry. The term backcountry should invoke images of fresh air, camaraderie and living large – not of courtrooms and money. I am disappointed in BC.com. management (but love their gearheads).

  10. Looks like the evil folk have seen the light…and are now backing down. Think that their lawyers had been smoking too much weed……
    Incomprehensible that an organisation could even contemplate what they did.. Hopefully the real folk will vote with their wallets and spend their money with decent stores.

  11. Thanks for saying not to bash the little guys at BC.com. But, I’m still not willing to spend my $$$ with BC.com after this whole mess. Upper management at BC.com should have thought this through A LOT better. It will be awhile before I spend money with them. For now I’ll buy from my local retailers.

  12. Michael Bechauf says:

    I will 100% continue to support this magazine with my subscription.

  13. Ben Arians says:

    Well said, Howie. Love to HOL Publications!

  14. Mick Hamilton says:

    Capitalism at its finest. Sad, but not surprising.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Well said and much respect!!

  16. You are the man! Well said. Keep crushing it!

  17. Andy Gemmell says:

    Really sad to see this happening. I have bc.com and won’t be going back now.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Scott Snowden says:

    Great letter and great call out to the good people at backcountry.com! Hopefully they’ll right their ship. Thanks for sharing. “Let’s be good to one another.” Really says it all.

  19. Jim Szczygiel says:

    Backcountry magazine – Respect!

  20. Charlie Rubin says:

    Did backcountry.com ask backcountry babies to use a different name? I wonder after the apology from the CEO, will they apologize to the companies and organizations that were affected? Just curious…

  21. I also admire your dedication, quality and success! Challenges typically give us clarity and help us to grow. Keep rising and shine on!!! I wholeheartedly support you and your adventurous team…you inspire many!!

  22. Francesco Bertotti says:

    Go ahead please!
    with great respect for your good work, from an European subscriber

  23. Your team of professionals continues to impress me. From the moment I met Lucy Higgins in the BACKCOUNTRY of Cooke City MT on the trip highlighted in From Granite to Grizzlies, April 2017, I have been a die-hard fan of your magazine and mission. Your response demonstrates respect and class. As the founder of the Wounded Warrior Patrol, we suffered numerous attacks from another organization because they claimed ownership of the first two words in our name.

    I commend you on your leadership and focus on the mission of educating and inspiring your audience! Stay the course!

  24. Brad Nyenhuis says:

    You guys are the shit. I’d expect nothing less than the classy statement above from you.
    The word “backcountry” is more than a description of where we like to ski. It’s certainly more than a company name. To many of us it’s a description of a lifestyle we love and revere.
    A few years ago, I won a pair of skis from a company I won’t mention for a letter of the month submittal to BC Mag. The skis were badly defective (over 4mm of concave in the base. Literally skiing on rails). After repeatedly trying to get the offending company to make good, Tyler Cohen, at his own expense, sent me a great pair of Scott Superguides he had in the office.
    THAT’S a stand up company that has truly earned the “Backcountry” name.

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