‘Icebox’ ruling leaves Fraser out in the cold
February 12, 2008
Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin looked coolly across his desk Monday at the certificate of registration from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as the wind and snow howled against the window pane in his office.
“I don’t have a whole lot to say,” he said, glancing at that piece of paper that “certifies” International Falls, Minn., as the official town designated “Icebox of the Nation,” at least as far as the trademark is concerned. “As of this point in time, our application has not been withdrawn. We’re evaluating what this means.”
Fraser and International Falls made headlines once again over the weekend stating that International Falls is officially the ‘Icebox of the Nation.’
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent the city attorney a certificate granting the community Reg. No. 3,375,139, which states that the city of International Falls, Minn., is entitled to the trademark.
According to an Associated Press article, International Falls claimed victory last week in the wake of the trademark ruling and feels the title has been confirmed, leaving Fraser in the cold.
“I ran over to the attorney’s office and kissed the certificate,” International Falls Mayor Shawn Mason said Friday in the AP article. “Fraser’s actions had sent a chill down my spine.”
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But is it really over?
Durbin was tight-lipped about the certificate of registration, but a feeling of “to be continued” hung in the air.
“This is news to us, that they received this,” he admitted. “We just received a copy of this today. (But) we’re not sure that it’s over yet.”
Durbin added that the town of Fraser has not withdrawn its application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, and it is still analyzing its next move. A cool smile formed across his face, and he chuckled.
“If nothing else, we’re still cool,” he said.
The Minnesota city on the Canadian border had been fighting the town of Fraser for the legal right to the trademark.
Mason said more was at stake than bragging rights. She said International Falls has used the icebox title to market itself as the nation’s premier site for cold-weather testing.
“We’re just thrilled the title has been confirmed,” International Falls City Administrator Rod Otterness said. “We’ll wait until next week to notify them of their copyright infringement. If Fraser wants to call itself the Icebox of Colorado, we have no problem.”
International Falls and Fraser have fought over the title before.
City Attorney Joe Boyle said International Falls can prove that it has used the moniker since 1948. And the city has photographic proof that its 1955 Pee Wee hockey team traveled to Boston with jackets saying, “The Icebox of the Nation.”
International Falls paid Fraser $2,000 in 1989 for dropping its claim to the title. But when the Minnesota community of 6,500 people failed to renew its trademark, the Colorado town jumped.
“They let it lapse and we thought, heck, if they don’t want it, we do,” Fraser Mayor Fran Cook said. “This is the first I’ve heard of any resolution and I have to admit I’m surprised.”
Cook said little will change even if Fraser’s lawyers confirm defeat.
“It’s something we’ve always gotten a kick out of and it will not disappear from the old-timers’ lingo,” she said.