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Lac La Belle Lodge – Mount Bohemia case in court next week

A dispute over who owns the right to use the term Mount Bohemia will have a preliminary hearing in court next week. Black Bear, Inc, the operating company for Mount Bohemia Ski Resort, is seeking to stop local vendors from selling any merchandise or apparel with the words included in the design. They were granted that trademark by the federal government and sent out cease and desist letters that took effect earlier this year.

A dispute has arisen with the Lac La Belle Lodge and the Bear Belly Pit Stop, owned by Troy and Cathy Westcott. They contend that Mount Bohemia is a geological feature, coined when the hill was purchased by the Bohemia Mining Company to survey for copper deposits in the 1800’s. They have sold shirts using the name for years, as did prior owners.

Black Bear, Inc. Owner Lonie Glieberman says the parties will try to hash things out beginning next week.

The two sides are going to mediation on December 21 with the magistrate judge.

Both Glieberman and Westcott have been clear that the intention here is not to paint Mount Bohemia in a negative light or try to harm the business’ bottom line. Westcott says it is indisputable that the ski hill has been a boon to the Lac La Belle Lodge and Bear Belly Pit Stop, as it has for the area in general. Glieberman says what is happening is a normal thing in life.

You’re always going to have disputes in life with your brother, your best friend, your girlfriend, maybe your ex-girlfriend. Look, there’s a dispute right now over a trademark. It’s not the end of the world. They have a point of view that they think they’re right. We have a point of view that we think we’re right.

Mount Bohemia and Black Bear, Inc. have felt some blowback on social media, which perhaps was a factor in the company creating a new plan that would allow outlets to sell Mount Bohemia trademarked apparel with little to no risk. Black Bear, Inc. would supply all of the merchandise and take back whatever is not sold, eating the losses. It would share the profits with the retailer and be reimbursed for the costs when an item is purchased by a customer. The agreement is similar to how newsstands operate when selling periodicals.

Glieberman says the program is proving popular.

The Compound in Marquette has taken us up on our retail program, as well as the Bahnhof in Petoskey, the Vertin Gallery right here in Calumet, and also Gaylord, White Birch Outfitters.

Westcott says that he wishes the retailer program would have been what Mount Bohemia led with, rather than legal warnings. He says that it is impossible to know how he would have reacted had things played out differently, but no matter the merits of such an agreement, he is now committed to winning in court.

We would have certainly been open to discussions, we were at that time. As we stated in the letter, we wanted to avoid litigation. This argument is not about money. We make very little overall on the sales of Mount Bohemia merchandise compared to our whole business.

Mediation is generally encouraged by courts. There will be several other settlement conferences and discussions if needed to try to keep the dispute from going to trial.

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