The e-commerce behemoth Backcountry.com is suing small business owners that have trademarked the word “backcountry”. A year ago, Backcountry.com filed for trademarks protecting the word “backcountry,” on their outdoor gear. Since then, the company has filed dozens of lawsuits and protests within the U.S. Patent and Trade Office targeting businesses that have trademarked the word “backcountry.”
The fairness of this move by Backcountry.com has come into question. Is this a strong-armed business tactic by the website, or just plain bullying?
“My feeling is that nobody should have the right to the term ‘backcountry,’” said Jordan Phillips, owner of Backcountry Denim in an article by the Colorado Sun. “It’s like trying to trademark ‘road’ or ‘beach’ or ‘mountain.’”
Phillips was sued earlier this year in California federal court by Backcountry.com for the usage of the word backcountry in his company name.
In February, the e-retailer sued Utah bike-maker Backcountry eBikes and the company had to settle and is now known as Backcou eBikes. In March, Backcountry.com sued Backcountry Denim, an American-made outdoor jeans company started by Jordan Philips in 2017. Then, in July, Backcountry sued Constellation Outdoor Education, which trademarked the name Backcountry Babes for its Colorado-born, women-focused avalanche education clinics.
Some are asking just how far Backcountry.com will go, as the trademark database at justia.com shows 316 businesses using the word “backcountry.” The list of businesses in Backcountry.com’s potential line of fire is long, ranging from guiding outfitters, ski and safety gear, tires, liquor, film festivals, coffee shops, angling equipment, and much more.
Backcountry.com, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the flurry of lawsuits.