“We made a mistake,” reads the letter from John Nielsen, Backcountry’s CEO. “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.”
In the days since news began circulating that Backcountry.com was suing small businesses for using the term “backcountry” in their names, a full-throated outcry has been heard from across the outdoor community. The Boycott Backcountry Facebook group rapidly swelled to 15,000 members. Hashtags like #boycottbackcountry and #scrapethegoat (a reference to the brand’s mountain goat icon) have zoomed around Twitter and Instagram. There’s even a boycottbackcountry website with information about the controversy. A GoFundMe account was also created to help cover legal fees for brands being sued by Backcountry over the trademark dispute.
Our own Facebook post about the topic was flooded with comments, most highly critical of Backcountry’s position in the controversy.
And now, after a week of silence since the news first broke, Nielsen has addressed the public relations nightmare with an open letter to the outdoor community. The letter explains that Backcountry will be dropping its lawsuit against Marquette Backcountry Ski, one of the most high profile lawsuit involving the trademark.
The full letter is below.
Dear Backcountry Community,
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 reexamine 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.
Jonathan Nielsen, CEO