The battle escalates over LTVA name |

The battle escalates over LTVA name

Sally J. Taylor

A paper battle between lawyers is escalating over who has a right to use the name “Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority” and its variations.

George Echan of Zephyr Cove, attorney for the bistate Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, and Day Williams of Carson City, attorney for South Shore businesswoman Faith Archuleta, have been volleying official statements since May when Archuleta posted a notice to sell the name.

The idea that the name can be sold by a private business “is ridiculous,” said LTVA Director Terry LeBan, “Our name is registered in both Nevada and California.”

Echan on Aug. 12, requested written assurances that Archuleta would “cease and desist” use of the LTVA name, deemed “proprietary name rights.”

“They’re not cooperating,” LeBan said.

Williams wonders, why should they?

“(Archuleta) has the trademark and the (Web) domain names (for many variations of visitors authority and visitors bureau),” he said. “All they have is a (registered) corporation.”

The names Aechuleta claims to own are worth quite a bit of money. Within an hour after publicizing the sale of the “Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority” name, she had an offer of $70,000.

“I would think that the LTVA would like to have all these names. She’d like to sell them,” Williams said.

“We do have the registered trademark. They do have the ability to buy them. (If they don’t) we have people ready to buy.”

It’s not the first time the LTVA has battled for its name.

We’ll do “whatever it takes,” LeBan said.

The LTVA has spent about $2 million to $3 million each year on advertising for the past 10 years. That’s an investment of $20 million to $30 million to promote Lake Tahoe tourism under that name.

“So of course we’re going to protect it,” she said

That investment, plus the expectations of potential visitors who call expecting a non-biased public entity, are worth doing battle over, she said.

“There is an awful lot of reliability in the name.

“We get angry calls (from people dissatisfied with the response of the other organization). We almost lost a group business because of it.”

The LTVA has battled for the name before. So far, contenders backed down following official letters and discussions explaining the organization’s cause.

In 1997, LTVA officials opposed an effort by its North Shore counterpart to rename itself the “Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau, Incline Village/Crystal Bay.”

“We didn’t oppose the use of ‘Lake Tahoe,'” LeBan said. “We didn’t want ‘Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau’ strung together (because of the confusion the similar names might create).”

After discussions, the organization settled on “Lake Tahoe Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau.”

In 1994 the LTVA wrote Jim Rein over the use of the name “Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau.” He and his associates agreed to abandon that name and began operating as the “Lake Tahoe Visitors Services.”

A few year later, Archuleta purchased property on U.S. Highway 50 opposite Tahoe Keys Boulevard, from Rein including the small office of the visitors services/visitors bureau. Soon after, the current name dispute reemerged.

This time the battle may not end with letters and discussions.

LTVA officials have told their attorney to do whatever it takes to protect the name.

Williams said, he and his client are also willing to “do battle if we have to.”

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