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Trademark war brewing in Mount Washington Valley

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  November 12, 2010 07:44 AM

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Should the name of a natural landmark have business implications?

That's what the owner of the Mount Washington Hotel, in Bretton Woods, N.H. is arguing, attempting to get other area businesses to stop from using "Mount Washington" in their names. 

The action pertains only to only a handful of properties in the Mount Washington Valley, but the action by CNL, a Florida real estate investment trust, has enraged locals, especially since the name of the highest peak in New England is referenced in many area businesses. Should a Florida company have the right to lay claim on what has been an institutional reference in the valley for decades?

According to a report by New Hampshire' WMUR:

Officials with CNL said that the name was never trademarked and that they are reaching out to only three other lodging businesses with "Mount Washington" in their name, all in northern New Hampshire.

"We're not about trying to put a fence around the name 'Mount Washington' as it could relate to other businesses," said Stephen Rice, senior vice president of CNL. "Those properties have nothing to fear."

He said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has agreed with the company that there is a likelihood of confusion when it comes to other lodging properties that share the name.

"I don't know how they could do it," Ned Sullivan of North Conway, who owns Mount Washington Valley Vacation Rentals, told the Associated Press. "I guess you're not afraid to move into the neighborhood and make a huge stink, as they are."

CNL bought the hotel in 2006. The corporation owns a number of properties in New England, including Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, Okemo Mountain Resort and the Village at Stratton in Vermont, and Hancock's Jiminy Peak.

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