Owners of the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH, don’t want anyone else using that name, so they’re trying to trademark it. There’s nothing unusual in that, except they’re only claiming the Mount Washington part, and therein lies the rub
At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Not only does it dominate the landscape of the White Mountains, its name is ubiquitous throughout the region, attached to any number of businesses and organizations.
Can anyone lay claim to the name as their own?
CNL, a Florida-based real estate investment firm that now owns the historic resort, told New Hampshire television station WMUR-TV in Manchester that they’re not trying to keep the name for themselves, but that they only want to limit its use by other enterprises.
“I think there is confusion,” said Stephen Rice, senior vice president and managing director of CNL. “Some people are assuming that we’re out to stop scored of businesses from using Mount Washington in their name. We are not. We are talking about three businesses – that’s it.”
Rice did not explain why the entire name of the hotel was not included in the trademark application. Nor did he discuss what would happen if the business changed hands and a later owner decided to enforce the trademark against other users.
Apparently the reference is the three other lodging businesses in the area that use the name Mount Washington, and negotiations are under way to get them to stop using the name.
One of those is the Mount Washington Valley Accomodations and Conference Center at the Attitash Ski Resort.
“For decades, my client and many others in the valley have used Mount Washington in connection with their goods and services and have peacefully coexisted with CNL, which is now an out-of-state company seeking to stop them from such use,” said Steve Grossman, an attorney for Attitash Mountain Service Company.
Just when and how Mount Washington got its name is not completely clear. The Native American name for it is Agiocochook. Early settlers called it by various names, but around the 1780s, even before he became the nation’s first president, people began referring to it as Mount Washington in honor of George Washington.