Lac La Belle, Mount Bohemia reach agreement on name use

LAC LA BELLE — The Lac La Belle Lodge and Mount Bohemia ski resort can sell merchandise with the name Mount Bohemia on it through the end of 2024, while the Mount Bohemia ski resort retains the trademark of the name, according to the terms of a preliminary settlement reached in federal court Monday.

Black Bear Entertainment operates the Mount Bohemia ski resort, which opened in 2000. It takes its name from the hill, named by the Bohemia Mining Company.

After registering trademarks in 2020 and 2021, Black Bear sent cease-and-desist orders to locations selling merchandise bearing the name Mount Bohemia. Among the retailers was the Lac La Belle Lodge, which continued selling them after the cease-and-desist order.

Black Bear argued the selling of merchandise infringed on its trademark and was capitalizing off the good will the ski hill had built up. Lac La Belle contended the merchandise was fair use, as it referred to the geologic feature and did not use the Bohemia logo.

The items had the name “Mount Bohemia” paired with mountain imagery. One item bore the image of a downhill skier; that should be permissible, as it depicted activity on the geological site, Lac La Belle argued.

“This certainly was not the result we were hoping for, but mediation is a give and take where in the end neither side is necessarily thrilled with the agreement,” Lac La Belle Lodge owners Troy and Cathy Wescott said in a statement Tuesday. “However, with the toll the case was taking on our financial and physical wellbeing we felt it was the best decision for us to make at this time.”

In addition to the $40,000 in attorney fees incurred so far, it would have cost another $75,000 to continue through the expected trial date in January 2023, the Wescotts said. They had been able to raise $25,000 through a Gofundme page set up for their legal support.

They thanked those who had donated or shown encouragement.

“We were blown away by what a truly awesome and loving community that we live in and words alone can’t express our gratitude for the support we received the past few months,” he said. “The support truly propped us up and gave us strength to get through this.”

Lonie Glieberman, owner of Black Bear, said he felt the mediation was resolved fairly.

“I know there’s obviously some bitterness on the other side, and I wish that was different, but we had to protect our trademark and we had to enforce our rights,” he said.

Glieberman disputed the Wescotts’ claims the merchandise was unrelated to the hill, saying the shop had not regularly started selling Mount Bohemia merchandise until 2013; when Mount Bohemia asked the shop to stop, it sold off their remaining stock by the end of the year, Glieberman said.

“Let’s call a spade a spade,” he said. “They’re selling it because there’s a popular ski resort. Nobody’s buying a random geological formation shirt. Otherwise there’d be a ‘Mount Houghton’ shirt.”

Glieberman said he believed the Wescotts’ decision was partially financially motivated, saying they had offered $27,000 to stop selling the merchandise. Subsequent negotiations were unsuccessful.

In their statement, the Wescotts said they took on the case in order to preserve Mount Bohemia as a public landmark. Mount Bohemia merchandise accounted for less than 1% of their sales revenue in a year, they said. Of that, two-thirds comes in the summer when the ski resort is not operating.

“Bottom line, we firmly believe no one person or corporation has the right to trademark the geologic formation known for over a century as Mount Bohemia,” they said in the statement. “We truly believe Mount Bohemia belongs to the people. We feel there is a strong case to support that and our hope that someone with the time and resources will agree and pick up the baton and take it to the finish line.”

The two sides agreed on preliminary terms Monday, which still need to be drafted. A telephone conference is scheduled for Feb. 4 to check the status of dismissal paperwork. Glieberman said if it reflects what was agreed to Monday, he’ll sign off on it.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We wish them the best. We wish someday they would appreciate there’s a lot of traffic of skiers and snowboarders because we built a ski resort in the middle of nowhere. … instead of litigation with us, they could encourage us to keep investing and building up the ski resort.”


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