Update: Warren Miller Entertainment Lawsuit - Ski Mag

Update: Warren Miller Entertainment Lawsuit

On September 21, Warren Miller Entertainment filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against Level 1. This week, they've announced that the case is currently on hold.
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Warren Miller is arguably the most iconic figure in the world of skiing. His annual ski films are regarded as celebrations of the beginning of each ski season. It all started in 1946 when Miller and a friend moved to Sun Valley, ID, lived in the parking lot in a teardrop trailer and earned money as ski instructors. In their free time, the two would film each other in order to critique their ski techniques. In the summer, they did the same thing while surfing off the California coast. Miller showed his ski and surf films to friends and told stories and jokes while they watched. After receiving countless invitations from friends to show his films and narrate them at parties, he realized he could make his hobby his business. In 1949, he founded Warren Miller Entertainment and began his long-standing tradition of producing an annual, feature-length ski film. He toured his film around to theaters near ski towns each year, often showing it at night, so he could shoot the next year’s footage during the day. Before long, Miller was showing his films in 130 cities a year. In the late 1990s, Miller stepped aside from his hands-on production of the film, but one is still produced annually in his name. Since 1950, Warren Miller Entertainment has produced 59 feature-length ski films—and still counting.

Warren Miller is arguably the most iconic figure in the world of skiing. His annual ski films are regarded as celebrations of the beginning of each ski season.

It all started in 1946 when Miller and a friend moved to Sun Valley, ID, lived in the parking lot in a teardrop trailer and earned money as ski instructors. In their free time, the two would film each other in order to critique their ski techniques. In the summer, they did the same thing while surfing off the California coast.

Miller showed his ski and surf films to friends and told stories and jokes while they watched. After receiving countless invitations from friends to show his films and narrate them at parties, he realized he could make his hobby his business.

In 1949, he founded Warren Miller Entertainment and began his long-standing tradition of producing an annual, feature-length ski film. He toured his film around to theaters near ski towns each year, often showing it at night, so he could shoot the next year’s footage during the day. Before long, Miller was showing his films in 130 cities a year. In the late 1990s, Miller stepped aside from his hands-on production of the film, but one is still produced annually in his name. Since 1950, Warren Miller Entertainment has produced 59 feature-length ski films—and still counting.

Every once in a while, a news story from the ski industry manages to leave the confines of ski online forums and local ski town newspapers. It usually takes a big personality (like Bode Miller or Shane McConkey) or an embarrassing catastrophe (like the pantless guy hanging from the chair at Vail) to erupt into the mainstream. But occasionally, it’s a controversy, a dispute between two key players. In this case, it’s a lawsuit.

As you’ve probably read elsewhere (see below for links to other stories), on September 21, Warren Miller Entertainment filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against Level 1. Why? Because, according to WME, Level 1’s new movie Refresh used registered Warren Miller trademarks to promote the film. A judge turned down WME’s request for a temporary ban on public showings of Level 1’s movie, which has continued playing at theaters since its premiere in Denver on September 11. On September 25, Warren Miller (the man) joined the case on the side of Level 1.

And as of this week, the case is currently on hold. Here’s the latest statement issued on Warren Miller Entertainment’s website: “Warren’s filing made it clear that he misunderstands the earlier agreements with WME and the respective rights each party now holds. In regards to Warren’s claims, which raise broader issues than those described in the initial legal action against Level 1, WME has moved to put the Level 1 case on hold while it arbitrates or resolves the difference of opinion with its namesake and company founder, Warren Miller.” WME has posted a list of frequently asked questions to help resolve some of the confusion surrounding this case.

Level 1’s Josh Berman was unavailable for comment. But in previous interviews with Freeskier magazine, he has said, “Since the lawsuit was filed, the support from every level of the ski industry has been overwhelming. Skiing as a whole is a global but tight-knit community, and it’s sincerely flattering to see so many people rallying behind our cause. To have Warren personally file a motion to intervene is a tremendous vote of confidence—it means a lot to me personally to have his support.”

Other Coverage

Aspen Daily News

Examiner

ESPN

The Ski Journal

Huffington Post

Vail Daily

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Warren Miller is arguably the most iconic figure in the world of skiing. His annual ski films are regarded as celebrations of the beginning of each ski season. It all started in 1946 when Miller and a friend moved to Sun Valley, ID, lived in the parking lot in a teardrop trailer and earned money as ski instructors. In their free time, the two would film each other in order to critique their ski techniques. In the summer, they did the same thing while surfing off the California coast. Miller showed his ski and surf films to friends and told stories and jokes while they watched. After receiving countless invitations from friends to show his films and narrate them at parties, he realized he could make his hobby his business. In 1949, he founded Warren Miller Entertainment and began his long-standing tradition of producing an annual, feature-length ski film. He toured his film around to theaters near ski towns each year, often showing it at night, so he could shoot the next year’s footage during the day. Before long, Miller was showing his films in 130 cities a year. In the late 1990s, Miller stepped aside from his hands-on production of the film, but one is still produced annually in his name. Since 1950, Warren Miller Entertainment has produced 59 feature-length ski films—and still counting.

Happy 60th Birthday, Warren Miller Films

In 1949, Warren Miller came out with his first ski movie. This year's 60th film, Dynasty, is touring the country now. We have an exclusive vintage film clip (just recently dusted off from the archive room) from the 1949 film, Deep & Light.

Aleksander Aurdal at Folgefonna, Norway.

The Envelope Please…

Announcing the winners of the first annual Skiing Magazine awards for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence in film.