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Ski resort demands local businesses stop using mountain name

KEWEENAW COUNTY — A legal contest in which Mount Bohemia Ski Resort is the plaintiff in trademark suit against The Lac La Belle Lodge and Bear Belly Pit Stop, is gaining public attention, and has begun generating pushback on more than one social media website.

The story began to leak into the community after Lac La Belle resident David Prehoda organized a fundraiser on the website gofundme.com, titled, “A David versus Goliath Story.”

Prehoda explained that the owners of the Lac La Belle Lodge and Bear Belly Pit Stop, Troy and Cathy Wescott, need $50,000 for a “legal defense fund; to help them fend off a scurrilous lawsuit that was filed against them by the owner(s) and operator(s) of the Mount Bohemia Ski Resort.”

Prehoda goes on to state that the owners of the Mount Bohemia Ski Resort, in seeking to trademark the iconic geologic formation known as Mount Bohemia, have sued Troy and Cathy Westcott, seeking to block them from selling any novelty t-shirts, sweatshirts, or other gift shop items that mention the name or depict the likeness of this well-established, Keweenaw County geologic formation.

“Troy and Cathy’s gift shop items and apparel have never used the likeness nor the logo of the Mount Bohemia Ski Resort,” Prehoda said.

According to the website trademarks.justia.com, on Jan. 27, 2020, Mount Bohemia filed four trademark applications on the name Mount Bohemia, so as to prevent its use by local businesses on apparel or other items. The First Use Anywhere Date listed for the trademark register appears as Dec. 31, 2020, the same date as Mount Bohemia is registered as First Use in Commerce Date.

According to documents originating in the United States Mineral Land Office within the Ordnance Bureau of the War Department, the geological feature in question takes its name from the the Bohemian Mining Company, organized in 1845, near Mt. Bohemia, with former American Fur Co. President Ramsay Crooks as the association’s president.

This information is verified in the Geological Reports of William A. Burt and Bela Hubbard for the year 1845, which stats on page 93 that the Bohemian was a New York company, with Company Trustees Crooks, Edward Curtis, William Macalay and Zepheniah Platt all listed as residing in New York. John Owen was from Detroit, and the mine’s superintendent was Simon Mendlebaum. The company held permits to three leases, Nos. 17, 32 and 35, all of which were of nine square miles.

As a geological feature, Mount Bohemia is listed on several Michigan websites as the fifth highest point in the Keweenaw Peninsula and the 52nd highest prominent peak in Michigan with an elevation of 1,465 feet.

In a Nov. 12, 2021, email to the Daily Mining Gazette, Lindsey Glieberman, of the ski resort, saying if anyone is to blame for the lawsuit against the Lac La Belle Lodge, it is her.

“Running Mount Bohemia since it’s early days we always took preservation in the brand we had created,” she wrote. “There was a period between 2010-2014 which we discovered other entities in the area distorting our brand and selling merchandise. It was addressed at the time and all entities agreed to discontinue any production of this merchandise. After these discoveries Mount Bohemia pursued trademarking its’ name to preserve the brand.”

The Report of the Michigan State Commissioner of Mineral Statistics for the year 1880 states on page 58 that:

“Mining in the vicinity of Lac La Belle was inaugurated at a very early day. The situation affords every opportunity for economical working. Here are found veins of sulphurets of copper, gray and black and copper pyrites. Previous to 1850 the Lac La Belle Company had driven a tunnel into the hill in the vein 400 feet, and found the vein 18 inches wide, bearing sulphurets of copper. A deep adit was also driven in the same vein a distance of upwards of 1,000 feet. This work was done in the base of the Bohemian mountain, which rises above the beautiful little lake at its foot, a distance of 864 feet. Nor further work was done on the location until 1866, when the Mendota Mining Company, owning 4,320 acres of land surrounding Lac La Belle, did some additional work to the amount of 308 feet of sinking and 780 feet of drifting.”

In a Nov. 11 uppermichiganssource.com article, the owners of the Lac La Belle Lodge are quoted as saying: “Not quite sure why it took 20 years for them to trademark and just trademark the name,”

A commenter on a social media website made the same observation, saying:

“Oh and they only filed for the trademark last year after announcing their own general store to sell merch(andise). They operated for 19 years without the trademark.”

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