Trademark Influencers and Aspen Mountain

by Dennis Crouch

I’m excited to head out to Snowmass in early January for the IP-SKI conference! Although we have the Ozarks here in mid-Missouri, there is nothing like the Rocky Mountains.  This year I’ll also have the opportunity once again to connect with other intellectual property lawyers and talk shop while enjoying some long runs. (LINK)

In the meantime, I came across an interesting lawsuit that Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) recently filed against ski apparel company Perfect Moment. ASC owns and operates the four famous ski resorts that make up Aspen Snowmass – Snowmass along with Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk, with a history stretching back to 1947. According to the complaint, ASC is suing Perfect Moment for trademark infringement, false association, unfair competition, and other claims. [Aspen Complaint]

The basic scoop here is that Perfect Moment conducted photo shoots on ASC properties to promote its skiwear, intentionally trading on ASC’s fame and reputation. Back in March 2021, Perfect Moment posted social media photos showing influencers posing in Perfect Moment apparel, with recognizable buildings, ski lifts, and trails of the ASC resorts in the background. ASC asserts such posts falsely imply an endorsement or sponsorship relationship. After a cease & desist letter, Perfect Moment removed some but not all of the photos.  More recently, Perfect Moment began selling jackets and pants bearing an image of people relaxing in at the Aspen “beach club,” complete with the signature red-and-white striped tents and lounge chairs on the mountain. The complaint seeks injunctive relief, destruction of the allegedly infringing apparel, and disgorgement of Perfect Moment’s profits.

Truthfully, the case here is a bit shaky, but courts have been known to strongly protect trademark holder rights. I expect that PM will quickly cave to the legal pressure, although I would suggest first sending in the influencers to the Federal Courthouse for a quick shoot with their winter attorney apparel.

Ian Saffer and Kate Bohmann from Quarles & Brady filed the lawsuit on behalf of Aspen. It does not appear that PM has been served yet.