Eric Hanson, operator of 1-800-SKI-VAIL, successfully defended his business and phone number against Skiing Behemoth, Vail Associates, who filed suit against the reservations agent for trademark infringement.
In ruling in favor of Hanson, who also owns 1-800-SKI-TELL(URIDE) and 1-800-SKI-ASPE(N), the district court judge stated that Vail Associates could not use its registered trademarks to stop Hanson from using the phone number. In addition, the court threw out Vail Associates’ request to cancel Hanson’s own trademark registration for 1-800-SKI-VAIL. In the Judgment, the judge noted that Vail Pass, for which the mountain was originally named, predated the Vail ski area (originally developed by George Gillette) and thus Vail Associates cannot claim exclusive rights to the use of the word. Not snowed by Vail’s arguments to the contrary, the judged used Vail Associates’ own witnesses against them, showing that travelers do not associate a ski vacation and its with a specific company, but rather a location. In the end, Hanson was one happy (phone) mogul.