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Commemorative gun maker profits

Steamboat did not approve city name engravings

Jennie Lay

Commemorative rifles honoring “Steamboat Springs’ history and heritage” that were advertised for sale in Thursday’s Steamboat Today were not endorsed, sponsored or approved by the city of Steamboat Springs, City Manager Paul Hughes said.

“It came as a complete surprise,” Hughes said. “We not only have nothing to do with it, but we would not have permitted it if they’d asked.”

A color, one-page flier distributed inside the Today advertised 26 limited-edition Ruger 10/22 firearms for sale by Investment Arms Inc. of Fort Collins.

The guns have laser-engraved scenes of elk accompanied by “Steamboat Springs” engraved on the right side of the rifle’s barrel and “Ski Town USA” engraved on the left.

Hughes said it wouldn’t have mattered whether the product had been a gun or a motorcycle — either way it is the same issue: The gun ad deceptively makes it seem like the city is getting a cut of the profits, he said.

“I don’t think cities and their logos are public property for businesses to make a profit off of,” Hughes said.

In this case, the “logo” in dispute is the phrase “Ski Town, U.S.A.” The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club owns the trademark to that moniker.

“They certainly did not have permission to use it,” Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said. “They either did not do their homework or chose to ignore it.”

DeVos said the club’s legal team is actively challenging Investment Arms.

“Technically, they shouldn’t have used that without permission to use it — legally,” said Ward Van Scoyk, the attorney who filed the Winter Sports Club’s trademark application in 1998. “That name is proprietary, in my opinion.”

Bill Daley, Investment Arms project manager, said his company was not aware of any trademark violations and would not have used anything they knew was trademarked.

“We try to be very thorough to make sure we don’t upset any of the locals,” Daley said. He cited the “federal trademark Web page” as his reference.

But a quick search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site reveals “Ski Town, U.S.A” was officially registered Oct. 31, 2000, by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Steamboat Springs, Trinidad and Burlington are three Colorado “pilot cities” that Investment Arms is using to test its new city-edition guns. Daley said it sold six to eight of the $599 Steamboat Springs edition guns Thursday, the same day the ad ran in the Today.

“It seems to be doing extremely well,” Daley said of the gun sales. “The phone has been ringing off the hook all morning,” he said.


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