Veteran-owned Denver roofing company still fighting to keep name after liquor company files trademark opposition
DENVER – It’s fair to say that the past few years have not been easy for SKYYGUARD owners.
“Terrible. It was time consuming. It was exhausting,” Sean Smith told Denver7 on Friday.
Smith and Chase Baron, the company’s chief executive officer, have struggled to keep the name of their roofing company.
The lawyers of SKYY Vodka’s parent company, Campari America LLC, said SKYYGUARD should not complete its trademark registration as the SKYY in SKYYGUARD could “dilute” its liquor brand and confuse their liquor customers.
“I didn’t really get it. We’re not into ghosts,” said Smith.
Denver7 first reported on this battle for the brand in January 2020. More than a year later, it still goes on and neither side gives up the fight.
According to a filing report shared with Denver7, one of SKYY Vodka’s parent company attorneys said to Smith, “… are you ready to essentially bankrupt the company that has been struggling all the way?”
“I’m pretty sure they are ready to outbid us and, if possible, bankrupt us,” said Smith.
Baron believes fighting could be cheaper than changing her company’s name.
“We’d lose three years of a brand we built in the greater Denver area,” he said.
Kristelia Garcia, a law professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said this was not only bad PR for SKYY Vodka, but also not a strong legal case.
“Trademark law requires trademark owners to vigorously defend their trademarks so that they aren’t later questioned as a generic,” she said. “My best guess would be that the attorney for SKYY Vodka is just trying to be vigilant and say, ‘Listen later, when people try to say our SKYY with two Ys, it means nothing, you don’t get the trademark anymore, we can say we at least tried. “
But it is an effort that Smith and Baron, both Navy veterans, could cost their Denver business so they are unwilling to give up.
“I think it’s time for someone to come up and say, ‘This is not what you’re doing,” said Smith.
Denver7 reached out to Campari America LLC and its attorney but received no response.