For decades, Steamboat Ski Resort has touted Steamboat as “Ski Town USA,” a moniker now being challenged by Salt Lake City and its marketing campaign as “Ski City USA.”
So, Steamboat Ski Resort is suing Utah tourism officials, claiming the $1.8 million marketing campaign violates their Ski Town, U.S.A. trademark.
Visit Salt Lake contends that the Ski City campaign doesn’t violate the Ski Town trademark, but actually acknowledges the distinction. To make the point crystal clear, the campaign’s website carries the tagline: “Once you’ve stayed in Ski City, you’ll never stay in another ski town.”
The online campaign and print ads emblazoned with the new Ski City logo was announced last month in a press conference that featured local elected officials, tourism authorities and ski resort executives.
Four Utah resorts, Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Snowbird Ski Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, are featured in the campaign, with emphasis on their proximity to Salt Lake area’s restaurants, bars and night life.
Not surprisingly, the ads do not include three resorts near Park City, which are also a short drive from Salt Lake City. Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. last month purchased Park City Mountain Resort.
The Ski City marketing is paid for by the private non-profit Visit Salt Lake, which gets its revenue from a tax that visitors pay when they stay at hotels. It isn’t meant to replace the long-running statewide slogan, “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” which is on Utah license plates and used for promotional materials. But Visit Salt Lake is not hesitant to acknowledge that the campaign takes direct aim at the competition from Colorado ski areas. Last season, Utah had 4.1 million day visits from skiers and snowboarders — compared to 12.6 million in Colorado.
The trademark infringement suit filed in Denver by the Steamboat Ski Resort and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club names the four Utah resorts and Visit Salt Lake. The lawsuit seeks an injunctive order to stop Salt Lake from using the Ski City brand and seeks unspecified damages including any profits made from use of the name.