Tahoe logo fuels battle | TheUnion.com

Tahoe logo fuels battle

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – The familiar blue-and-white logo of a regional conservation group is fueling a business battle.

Variations on the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s “Keep Tahoe Blue” logo abound around the lake.

There’s The Brewery at Lake Tahoe’s “Drink Tahoe Brew,” Blue Turtle Seduction’s “Keep Tahoe Seductive,” Tahoe Hemp Company’s “Keep Tahoe Green,” and many more.

But personal trainer Chris Minnes, the owner of Keep Tahoe Fit, recently attracted the attention of the conservation group’s lawyers.

On July 16, Rochelle Alpert, a lawyer representing the league, sent a letter to Minnes contending the trainer’s logo infringes on the conservation group’s registered trademark.

Keep Tahoe Fit’s initial logo closely resembled the league’s, which includes a light blue stamp of Lake Tahoe’s shape to the left of white, uppercase, sans serif letters reading “Keep Tahoe Blue” on a blue background. Minnes replaced the word “blue” with “fit” in the first iteration of his logo, spurring the objection from the league.

“Please understand that the League considers its long-used and well-known marks as valuable intellectual property,” Alpert said in the letter. The group is prepared to avail itself of available remedies to protect against your intentional infringement and dilution of its trademark rights.”

Minnes used the variation of the league’s logo because it was recognizable, people liked it and it worked well with the business he was trying to promote, he said.

He called league’s pressure an “attack” on the local community.

“Frankly I was a bit flattered that our little business caught their attention,” Minnes said. “But I was also surprised and upset that an organization whose stated mission is protection and conservation advocacy for Lake Tahoe would send their San Francisco-based lawyers after me. It just seems like those resources would be better spent protecting the lake, not attacking its local business.”

The conservation group has made “countless” attempts to resolve the issue amicably, said spokeswoman Amanda Royal in an e-mail. The for-profit use of the modified mark is troubling to the league, which has distributed nearly 1 million stickers bearing the logo, she added.

“The public could think that we are associated with this commercial enterprise in some way,” Royal said

Minnes has replaced the lake stamp on the Keep Tahoe Fit logo with the light blue profile of a female runner in an effort to get the league to “leave him alone,” even though he considered the necessity of the move “a bit of a stretch.”

“With the replacement by the running girl, there should be no reason they should have a problem with me,” Minnes said.

But it’s unclear the change will solve the problem.

“We remain concerned that his new logo trades off our long-established, iconic logo and that it remains a copy of the sticker that has long identified the league,” Royal wrote.

“It’s in the best interest of all parties to create original brands, and that is all that we ask of Mr. Minnes,” Royal added.

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