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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.”