Aspen Skiing Co. is suing the owner of several retail stores near its resorts, saying the shops have been peddling items bearing a knockoff of its logo.
Aspen Skiing — which owns ski areas Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass — filed a lawsuit against O’Bos Enterprises LLC in U.S. District Court in Denver last week, alleging trademark infringement and unjust enrichment.
O’Bos Enterprises owns at least five retail stores in Aspen and Snowmass Village, according to the lawsuit: Aspen T-Shirt Co., Art Tee Gallery, Generation Aspen, Snowmass Trading Co. and Snowmass Trading T-Shirt Co.
A request for comment left with staff at Aspen T-Shirt Co. on Monday morning was not returned.
According to the lawsuit, Aspen Skiing granted a license in 2006 to O’Bos Enterprises to sell items featuring its well-known logo, an aspen leaf regularly paired with the words “Aspen Snowmass.”
That license agreement ended in 2007, according to an exhibit included with the lawsuit.
Last fall, Aspen Skiing became aware the shops still were selling items with the logo, and the parties reached a deal in which the shops would sell off the remaining inventory and pay royalties, the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, “within months” of that deal being reached in November, O’Bos Enterprises began selling apparel with an “infringing design.”
The design also features the words “Aspen Snowmass,” although the font is different from the original logo, and there is a line between the two words. Whereas the original logo has a leaf on the left side of the words, the design at the heart of the lawsuit features a differently drawn leaf on the right side of the words.
Aspen Skiing said it has asked O’Bos Enterprises to stop selling items with the design, but the company has not.
“Given the history with O’Bos: their license, their prior actions, the prior sell-off agreement and the appearance of this new design as soon as the sell-off period expired, it appears that O’Bos tried to tweak the mark ‘just enough’ to be different,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said in an email. “But the leaf together with its placement and the stacked words of Aspen and Snowmass all together makes it confusingly similar to our mark, especially when assessed in light of history.”
Ian L. Saffer and Kathryn L. Bohmann of Littleton’s Swanson & Bratschun are representing Aspen Skiing in the lawsuit.