Legal has its role, but PR must have a decision-making voice—here’s why

Before your esteemed attorneys steer top executives toward a particular path, consider this cautionary tale of overzealous trademark protection, derived straight from the backcountry.

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Why PR must work with Legal

Consider the case of one of many companies called Backcountry. 

Before getting to which “backcountry,” let’s ask Ragan/PR Daily readers if common sense and/or your knowledge of people who love the great outdoors would think kindly of a brand that would try to trademark “backcountry” and prevent others from using it?

Well, that’s what backcountry.com and its lawyers did. Once the sunlight of journalism and social media came into play, the story quickly morphed into a morality tale of what happens when lawyers don’t consider brand and reputation. But first let’s recount the facts and the unfortunate lawyering-up escapade. 

Backcountry.com is a leading e-retailer of outdoor gear. About a year ago, while preparing to launch its first branded apparel, it hired IPLA, the nation’s largest intellectual property law firm to send “cease and desist” letters and to sue multiple companies that were using “backcountry.” 

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