Round-Up, Woolen Mills resolve Pendleton name dispute

PENDLETON - It has been two years since two century-old corporations started tussling over the name “Pendleton.”

The Pendleton Woolen Mills sued the Pendleton Round-Up Association in 2011, saying the rodeo infringed on a trademark by using the word Pendleton on its Let'er Buck Cologne labels. The Woolen Mills filed a 13-page complaint in U.S. District Court accusing the Round-Up of using a trademark that was “confusingly similar” to its own and made the case for federal trademark infringement, unfair competition and trademark dilution. It sought unspecified damages.

Lawyers for the clothing maker asked the court to prohibit registration of the Round-Up trademark for fragrances or anything related to products sold by Pendleton Woolen Mills.

The companies’ otherwise harmonious relationship took a side trip as the two whittled away at their disagreement in mediation. Monday, the companies announced a meeting of the minds.

“We're happy to share the news that we have reached a resolution,” said Woolen Mills CEO Mort Bishop. “The agreement provides a framework for the Round-Up and Woolen Mills to work together with mutual friendship for the next 100 years.”

Both plaintiff and defendant remained fairly mum about their discussions over the past two and a half years, and remained equally cryptic regarding details of their recent agreement. A judge gave lawyers for the two sides until Oct. 17 to submit details of the agreement.

Pendleton Round-Up Director Randy Thomas called the document confidential.

“It includes guidelines for our organizations to operate together with clear understanding of each other's interests,” he said. “Further, there are procedures established to govern future issues which may need resolution.”

He expressed relief at the resumption of harmonious relations.

Bishop said agreement was reached during discussions between Bishop and Pendleton Round-Up Association President Tim Hawkins. The discussions were “all about trademark protection” and the resolution was “in the spirit of Let'er Buck.”

“We're delighted to have this issue resolved, especially as we head into Round-Up,” said Bishop, who said he will arrive in Pendleton on Thursday to attend.

Let'er Buck Cologne currently bears a label depicting the silhouette of a cowboy riding a bucking horse and the phrase “Let'er Buck, the official fragrance of the Pendleton Round-Up.”

Another Pendleton Round-Up product, Pendleton Whisky, was allowed to use the Pendleton trademark via a 2003 trademark licensing agreement granting use by the Woolen Mills in branding and marketing the whisky. In other past collaborations, Pendleton Woolen Mills has created blankets and other products using the Pendleton Whisky logo, some of which include the classic bucking horse of the Pendleton Round-Up.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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