Two business owners in Revelstoke recently received an unexpected letter demanding them to change the name of their local enterprise, despite the fact they’ve been in operation for nealy a decade.
Christiane Duclos and Lorne Alcock, who own Base Camp Guest House in Revelstoke, said that they knew a hotel was opening in the area with a similar name, Basecamp Resorts Ltd, but weren’t concerned.
“We thought the new hotel would expand our referral network and we didn’t think much of it. There’s enough business to go around,” Duclos said.
However, the couple last week received a FedEx overnighted letter from Basecamp Resorts out of Calgary, telling them to “cease and desist” from using the name “Base Camp Guest House” as it “causes confusion, depreciates the value” of the name.
Based out of Canmore, Alta., Basecamp Resorts had their development permit approved by city council in February for a 30-unit motel off Highway 23N. The company has three hotels in Canmore with another under construction.
|Duclos and Alcock have a new sign for their guest house, but they might not be able to use it. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Duclos and Alcock said they’re shocked.
“We don’t know who they are as they never said who their name is. They never talked to us before to try and work it out. Instead, they used a heavy handed approach.”
The couple said they would have been more than willing to come to a compromise, but now they don’t know what to do.
“In the beginning a phone call would have been fine, but it’s more than that now.”
Trademark agent Kursty Bansley, who is acting on the couples’ behalf, said this type of situation isn’t unique. Typically when businesses register for a trademark, the application goes though an examination and vetting process with the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. Not all businesses trademark their name.
“But that doesn’t mean they don’t have rights,” said Bansley. Legislation in Canada recognizes common law rights. There are a lot of factors and law involved with trademark disputes, such as how similar are the names, date first used and nature of the trade/goods.
“You can send a cease and desist to somebody, but that doesn’t mean they need to stop using that name.”
Duclos and Alcock said it would cost thousands to re-brand as there’s the website and logo. Not to mention guest reviews and a 4.4/5 star rating on Google.
“If we change our name, we lose it all. It’s not just changing the sign out front,” said Alcock.
Duclos posted to Facebook about the letter and received a flood of positive responses and was later interviewed by CBC Radio.
|The McLeans own two hotels, one in Canmore and another in Golden. They had a development permit approved by Revelstoke city council in Feb for a 30-unit motel. Each unit will be self-contained with kitchens. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Sky and Tim McLean are the owners of Basecamp Resorts and came to Revelstoke this week in part to talk with Duclos and Alcock.
In retrospect, the McLeans agree with the couple. The letter shouldn’t have been sent and they should have called first.
“But we didn’t know. We’re learning as we go,” said Sky.
They are a young couple and have only for three years and chose the name Basecamp “as it’s the place where expeditions begin”.
The McLeans said they decided to trademark Basecamp because they wanted to create a national/international recognized brand. They hired a lawyer and did what they were told was right.
“We’re in shock. To be thrown under the bus like this.”
Duclos and Alcock didn’t call them either said the McLeans.
“This is heartbreaking. We’re not a big company. We aren’t coming here with guns blazing.”
There is another business in Revelstoke with a similar name – Basecamp Cabin. While the McLeans said they haven’t reached out yet, they’ll definitely call first. Maybe even bring cupcakes.
The McLeans, Duclos, and Alcock are planning to meet in-person and find a solution.