Park City, fervent and frustrated, rallies against Vail Resorts trademark |

Park City, fervent and frustrated, rallies against Vail Resorts trademark

Jay Hamburger
The Park Record
Protestors hold signs opposing Vail Resorts' application for a trademark of "Park City" outside City Hall Wednesday afternoon.
Tanzi Propst | Park Record |

PARK CITY, Utah — City Hall leaders and a delegation from Vail Resorts met Wednesday afternoon at the Marsac Building to discuss the firm’s polarizing attempt to trademark the name “Park City,” huddling privately inside as a large crowd of demonstrators, fervent and frustrated, rallied in the parking lot against the Colorado-based owner of Park City Mountain Resort.

Nearly 250 people gathered outside the front door to the building. Many carried signs, some sang protest songs while others appeared to be there to take in the scene of what was one of the largest demonstrations in Park City in years.

The tension about the Vail Resorts’ trademark application, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, built in recent weeks and reached a crescendo on Wednesday. It was widely publicized that Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz would lead a delegation to the meeting with Mayor Jack Thomas and other City Hall officials, and a demonstration was organized in advance.

The demonstrators were peaceful. Katz stopped to talk to some of them on his way into the building. It was a mixed crowd of longtime Park City locals and newcomers to the community. Youngsters held signs alongside people who appeared to push into their 70s.

Dana Williams, a former three-term mayor of Park City and one of the leading critics of the trademark application, addressed the crowd, saying a “Park City” trademark would be an “affront” to the history of the community.

“This is going just a little too far,” Williams said, urging the demonstrators to “keep up the fight.”

The Vail Resorts trademark application is narrowly tailored to a mountain resort, and the company has said it would enter into agreements outlining that it will not bring actions against other businesses with “Park City” in their name. Vail Resorts says the trademark is sought to guard against another mountain resort someday opening with the “Park City” moniker. The official name remains Park City Mountain Resort, but the property is marketed as “Park City.”

The trademark efforts, started under a former owner of Park City Mountain Resort, though, have spurred widespread dismay as critics see the application as an example of corporate overreach. The mayor and the Park City Council have attempted to negotiate an agreement with Vail Resorts protecting the other businesses, but a deal has not been reached.

The Patent and Trademark Office has granted City Hall an additional 60 days to consider a formal opposition. It is not clear whether the municipal government will file a formal opposition. That decision could be made shortly as discussions continue with Vail Resorts.

City Hall officials and the Vail Resorts delegation did not provide detailed comments about the meeting on Wednesday.

The mayor told reporters the sides will continue to consider the specifics of a potential agreement that would be meant to protect the other businesses that use “Park City” in their name.

“It was an intense meeting. I think we have a clearer understanding of where Vail stands with regard to the issues that our community has,” Thomas said afterward inside the Marsac Building, adding, “I think the community is asking for better local protection of businesses and clarity with regard to signage and operation and interaction in the community.”

Katz, accompanied by Park City Mountain Resort chief operating officer Bill Rock and Kristin Kenney Williams, who is the Vail Resorts vice president of mountain community affairs, said little to reporters as he left the Marsac Building. He declined to comment about whether Vail Resorts would withdraw the trademark application, one of the hopes of the opponents. He said the meeting was a “good discussion all around.”

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