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Some think Park City may be on the verge of an identity crisis.
Call what used to be Park City Mountain Resort and the operator answers, "Park City."
That's because Vail Resorts owner of what used to be two ski areas in Summit County Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort has filed to trademark the name Park City for the combined resorts.
Vail already has begun its new marketing strategy, dumping the Park City Mountain Resort brand for the shorter "Park City."
But Vail representatives say residents and businesses in and around Park City will not be harmed and they are willing to put the promise in writing.
Nonetheless, the trademark issue is not going down easy with some of the townsfolk. Dana Williams, the former mayor of Park City, is among those leading a drive to stop the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from finalizing the deal.
The trademark application has been filed but is subject to a protest period, Williams said. The deadline for such objections is July 9.
Trademarking the Park City name would rob the community of its identity, the ex-mayor said Thursday. It also would create confusion for anyone trying to distinguish the resort from the town. The town's historic district, for example, is not within the resort boundaries.
Not least, Williams said, the trademark could impact existing businesses that include the words "Park City" as part of their monikers. That could extend to lodging, restaurants, real estate and transportation.
"The potential for mission creep here could extend throughout the business community," Williams warned.
Vail's assurances have not stopped an online petition against the trademark application that has garnered more than 1,600 signatures with comments such as "Park City is our town, not the name of your resort." And "Vail has no right to use the Park City name."
Vail took over operations of Canyons Resort in 2013 in a lease agreement with Talisker Corp. It then acquired PCMR in 2014 after a protracted legal dispute with Powdr Corp. Since then Vail has pumped $50 million into improvements at its Utah ski operation. Vail is the most significant economic driver in Park City or Summit County.
Kristin Williams, vice president of mountain community affairs for Vail Resorts Inc., said the corporation will make every effort to safeguard businesses and reduce confusion by distinguishing between the municipality and the ski resort where appropriate such as in radio spots advertising local activities.
She noted, however, that the ski resort formerly known as Park City Mountain Resort always has been synonymous with the Park City label in skiing circles and national marketing.
Vail Resorts Inc. inherited the trademark application from the preceding owner, Powdr Corp, Kristin Williams said. Vail has narrowed the once-broad language to cover only resort operations.
"We're protecting against any other ski resort using the Park City name," she said.
Further, she said, Vail would provide written assurances to any Summit County business fearful of trademark infringement.
Vail has been in discussions with the municipality, Kristin Williams said.
Matthew Dias, the assistant city manager, said neither Mayor Jack Thomas nor the City Council has reached a decision on whether to protest the trademark application.
Although Vail has been a "great community partner," Dias said the mayor and council are seeking more public input before weighing in.
Dias noted that the past ski season was one of the best economically for the Park City area.
This is not the first time Park City's identity has been modified. In the mid-1980s, the "Tanger Outlet at Park City" opened. The mall at Kimball Junction was some six miles outside Park City limits. Not long after, the U.S. Postal Service opened an office at Kimball Junction that also was labeled with a Park City address.
Presently, many residents of western Summit County communities, such as Pine Brook or Jeremy Ranch, identify themselves as Park City residents and some even attempt to vote in Park City elections, not realizing they do not live in Park City.