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Be careful of how you use the word Backcountry! Especially if it's part of a business you're starting.


Angel Diva
Maybe they caved looking ahead to the Black Friday/Xmas season. Whatever, this sounds like good news, I will be reading the latest news.

It's ALWAYS about the MONEY..... they are still bullies. I read an article about a small business in Idaho they had backcountry in their name for nearly decade before BC ever opened. They got sued, spent gobs of money against the corporate giant atty's finally gave up and changed their name. Bullying is not right in any playing field.


Angel Diva
In looking back at the history of Backcountry.com , there are a few major changes that stood out from the last dozen years.

2007 - majority ownership sold to Liberty (owner of QVC, public company), first trademark issued
2011 - Jim Holland steps down as CEO, Jill Layfield promoted from COO to CEO
2015 - Liberty sells to TSG
late 2105 - Jill Layfield quietly leaves Backcountry.com, Jonathan Nielsen promoted to CEO
2017 - efforts related to trademarks increase significantly

Jim Holland remains on the Backcountry.com Board. The other co-founder, John Bresee, died suddenly in June 2019 as noted in Jason Blevins' Oct. 31 article.

The growth of the company starting from 2004 is background for this interview with Jill Layfield in 2011.

Jan 2011, updated May 2017, snnews
Jill Layfield to become CEO of Backcountry.com


Angel Diva
I think I get it now. Since I hadn't bought anything from Backcountry.com for several years, I didn't know they had created a "house brand" with the goat in 2018. Obviously that was based on work related to trademarks and finding partners who make stuff.

REI had created the REI Co-op brand around 2014. There are just over 1000 REI Co-op projects as of 2019.

Screen Shot 2019-11-09 at 10.14.38 AM.png

This interview with CEO Jonathan Nielson soon after a press conference in March 2018 about creating a "Backcountry" brand put what's been going on since 2017 in context.

April 2019, snews
An exclusive interview with Backcountry CEO Jonathan Nielsen
The company's Gearheads talk to millions of customers every year, so they decided to do something with their feedback—make their own gear.

" . . .
On what’s next for Backcountry: “The backcountry brand is here to stay. We had a small launch in 2018 and we’re taking a giant step forward in 2019. I think you’ll see continual large steps forward. Our goal is to become a major outdoor brand on the product side and continue to do what we’ve always done on the retail side and lean in to our Gearhead program.”"


Angel Diva
Jason Blevins did a followup article. This time he talked with the CEO, as well as the owner of Marquette who was determined to have his day in court if necessary.

Nov. 8, 2019, The Colorado Sun, by Jason Blevins
Backcountry.com fires its attorneys, partners with company it targeted in trademark lawsuit as CEO vows to make amends
But the company isn’t withdrawing 50+ requests that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office cancel the trademarks of other companies, Backcountry.com CEO Jonathan Nielsen said in an interview with The Sun.

ski diva

Staff member
But the company isn’t withdrawing 50+ requests that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office cancel the trademarks of other companies, Backcountry.com CEO Jonathan Nielsen said in an interview with The Sun.

Yeah. This.


Angel Diva
A little more history about the co-founders of Backcountry.com . In 2006, Backcountry had yet to file for any trademark. Steep & Cheap was relatively new. The competition they focused on was from REI, Mountaingear.com, and Moosejaw.com. The Valley News article is about Jim Holland, who died in 2019 at age 53. His parents and siblings still live where he grew up. The article was based on an interview shortly before he died. Holland was CEO until 2011. He wasn't diagnosed with Parkinson's until after 2012.

2006, Forbes
Mountain Men

2019, Valley News (New Hampshire)
Backcountry.com founder climbing the mountain of Parkinson’s disease
" . . .
In the mid-90s, selling merchandise via the internet was a new phenomenon. Holland and Bresee concentrated on high-end outdoor gear. They found their niche in the untapped and growing market of serious adventurers who craved $2,200 kayaks and $450 avalanche beacons.

But it was never a sure thing.

In the company’s early years, Holland could be found “dumpster-diving at grocery stores to find cardboard boxes to repackage skiing and rock-climbing equipment that he’d bought from manufacturers so he could turn around and send them to customers,” Forbes.com wrote in a 2006 profile of Holland and Bresee.

“While Bresee, president, dreamed big, Holland, chief executive, kept a fierce grip on costs,” Forbes.com wrote. “A popular saying among employees: ‘If John were running the company alone, we’d be bankrupt; if Jim ran things alone, we’d still be working in the garage.’ ”

Holland and Bresee combined their passion for outdoor adventures with an entrepreneurial spirit to build the second-largest online retailer of outdoor gear and clothing behind REI.com.

By the mid-2000s, Holland and Bresee were running a company with annual revenues of nearly $100 million, Forbes.com reported. Today, Backcountry has nearly 1,500 employees.
. . ."


Ski Diva Extraordinaire


Angel Diva
What is snews? Seems its tied to bc.com if the marketing rep is already replying to comments. So a trolling mechanism for the corp?
I hadn't heard of snews until recently. It's an online magazine and website that seems to have been following Backcountry.com for years simply because the company is a big deal to some segments of the backcountry ski market. The snews tagline is "We Know Outdoors." It's part of Outdoor Group, which includes the magazines SKI, Climbing, Backpacker, along with Warren Miller Entertainment.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
So they are trolling for info.
Then they sell results.
Not impressed with snews.
Who cares about a poll used to feed info to marketing managers for corps ?


Angel Diva
Unfortunately it's kind of par for the course these days. Doesn't matter what the issue is, it seems like if someone becomes a visible figure who makes any kind of controversial decision about anything, they get death threats.


Angel Diva
For some insight into what happened after the initial statement from the Backcountry.com CEO and the firing of the law firm that pressured small businesses about trademarks related to the word "backcountry," have a listen to the Blister interview with Jason Blevins. Jason is the reporter who broke the story that led to the backlash.

Nov. 18, 2019, Blister podcast, 50 min
Reporter Jason Blevins on Backcountry.com (Ep.109)


Angel Diva
After listening to the Blevins interview again, a few comments stood out.

* As of 2017, the small companies that were being threatened with a suit already owned a "product" trademark for something important to their business. Backcountry.com only had "service" trademarks but wanted to have lots of product trademarks going forward. (15 min mark)

* Patagonia owns product trademarks, which is what they have been protecting. (17 min mark)

* Blevins was "introduced" to David Ollila of Marquette Backcountry Ski via email a while back. Blevins took some time to research the situation before publishing the article on Oct. 31, 2019. He communicated with large and small companies who had "backcountry" in the name of their company or a product. He studied the basics of trademark law for a few weeks as part of researching for the article.

* The Colorado Sun is an independent, journalist-owned, newspaper/media outlet that came into existence after the Denver Post was substantially changed after being bought by a big company. It has no advertising. It's supported by subscribers and grants. (Topic in last 10 min of the podcast.)


Angel Diva
Jason Blevins wrote an editorial for the Washington Post about the power of the people who enjoy backcountry adventures. He starts with a succinct overview of the Backcountry. com story but expands the story with other examples. The byline notes that Blevins is the co-founder of The Colorado Sun.

Nov. 28, 2019, Washington Post
As Backcountry.com discovered, outdoor-recreation fans are joining together
"The inherent risks of navigating wild landscapes — trying to traverse avalanche terrain in the mountains, for instance — can be reduced when a group of adventurers works together to solve the problem. It’s an increasingly popular tactic used to hone backcountry decision-making in dicey situations: Come together, listen to every voice and find a solution that works for everyone.

The all-together concept aids outdoor explorers on the micro level, but it appears to also be emerging on a macro level, with the outdoor recreation industry asserting newfound power as an economic, political and cultural force.

It helps that outdoor recreation — including hiking, camping, hunting, boating and climbing — has considerable industrial clout, accounting for $427.2 billion, or 2.2 percent, of U.S. gross domestic product in 2017.
. . .

. . . how the outdoor-recreation industry is fueling a political movement focused on protecting public lands, reducing the impact of climate change and widening access for recreation. In March, the largest public lands bill in a decade was signed into law, creating 1.3 million acres of new wilderness and 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The Outdoor Business Climate Partnership has united the industry’s top trade groups in a unified lobbying push for a clean-energy economy. In Congress, legislation championed by the outdoor industry — the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act and Recreation Not Red-Tape Act — promises to streamline recreational access and permitting on federal public lands.

With outdoor-recreation fans seeming more likely to stand arm-in-arm — and not just go their separate ways, as they had in the past — politicians appear to be taking notice of how potent a unified outdoor-recreation industry could be. In the past four years, the number of states with offices dedicated to fostering outdoor recreation has grown to 16 from three. At least five more states have offices under consideration. The Backcountry.com episode put plenty of people on notice that the outdoor community can act cohesively and decisively when threatened."

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