Local business owner says Backcountry.com apology for long legal battle is too little, too late

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A local business owner sued by Backcountry.com for using 'backcountry' in its name said the public apology by the e-commerce giant's CEO cannot repair the damage done to his business and other local businesses.

Jordan Phillips founded Backcountry Denim thanks to the help of support from Kickstart. However, two years ago Phillips found himself at the beginning of what would be a long and tiring fight with Backcountry.com over Phillips' use of 'backcountry' in his small business's name.

Phillips said he spent two years defending his company and his website. He said he owned the trademark and the website himself so he was able to defend himself, quickly becoming "an expert in trademark law." In the end, Phillips said his small business couldn't afford an attorney to fight seven lawsuits filed by Backcountry.com in federal court.

Phillips, now based in Boulder, couldn't tell FOX31 how the legal battle ended but did confirm both his website and all social media have been taken down. His company is now called BDCo.

Phillips said he's frustrated to see Backcountry.com has focused its lawsuits on small businesses because he believes the e-commerce site knows there isn't much they can do to defend themselves.

The fight Phillips faced for two years is gaining national attention. The Colorado Sun first broke the story on the online retailer's pursuit of small businesses using "backcountry" in their name. Since then, outcry on social media has continued to grow louder with more than 18,000 people joining a Facebook group called "Boycott Backcountry.com" -- focused on spreading the message to boycott the retail site.

According to Backcountry.com's website, it was founded by "two guys" in a garage in Park City, Utah in 1996. The company was eventually sold and is now owned by TSG Consumer. Over the years, the small site has morphed into an e-commerce giant offering one-stop-shopping for skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts.

Backcountry.com's CEO finally broke his silence earlier this week about the lawsuits. In a public letter posted on its website, CEO Jonathan Nielsen called the company's actions "a mistake" and apologized.

For Phillips, he said the apology is too little, too late. He cannot get back the years he spent fighting for his company's name or the stress it caused him. He said he only finds solace in the fact that people around the country are now feeling the anger and frustration he's harbored for two years.

FOX31 contacted Backcountry.com but requests for an interview were never returned.

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