We made a mistake: Backcountry.com responds to trademark backlash

It’s been an angry week in the outdoor adventure world as the news that Backcountry.com had sued small businesses for the use of the word “backcountry” got out. We wrote about it here. 

Facebook boycott groups were formed, social media went feral and the internet was flooded with opinion and news pieces on the sole traders, entrepreneurs and businesses sued by Backcountry.com in the past year. 

The company has, in the face of such brand backlash, disappointment and anger, remained silent. No doubt gathering their crisis comms thoughts on how to respond.

Today they released a statement on their website. 

The official statement from Backcountry.com

The CEO of Backcountry.com Jonathon Nielsen prepared the following statement. 

We have heard your feedback and concerns, and understand we fumbled in how we pursued trademark claims recently. We made a mistake.

In an attempt to protect the brand we have been building for nearly 25 years, we took certain actions that we now recognize were not consistent with our values, and we truly apologize.

It’s important to note that we tried to resolve these trademark situations amicably and respectfully, and we only took legal action as a last resort. That said, we know we mishandled this, and we are withdrawing the Marquette Backcountry action*. We will also re-examine our broader approach to trademarks to ensure we are treating others in a way that is consistent with the culture and values envisioned by our founders and embraced by our community.

We only want what’s best for the whole community and we want every person and business in it to thrive. Backcountry has never been interested in owning the word “backcountry” or completely preventing anyone else from using it. But we clearly misjudged the impact of our actions.

We understand that this step we’ve taken may not be enough for some of you. The hope is that we can ultimately win back your trust, even if it takes time. We are grateful to be a part of your lives, providing you with great gear for your outdoor adventures, and all we want is to go back to doing what we do best. We intend to learn from this and become a better company.

Over to you, internet. Over to you.

*editor’s note. Marquette Backcountry Skis, a sole trading business, were being sued for 3 times their profit and then some.

Backcountry.com trademarks "backcountry" and then sues everyone

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.