The last best marketing ploy

Montana State Roundup

Published September 1, 2005  | September 2005 issue

Numerous Montana businesses and public entities use the slogan "The Last Best Place" to promote their products and services. The phrase is sprinkled liberally throughout the state's official Web site. Real estate developers, resorts, restaurants, retailers and universities employ "The Last Best Place" in brochures and advertising.

The phrase that many Montanans consider synonymous with their state will belong to Las Vegas businessman David Lipson—significantly restricting its use by anyone else if he succeeds in trademarking it for a multitude of commercial enterprises.

Since 2001 Lipson, owner of a resort near Missoula, has applied for eight trademarks on the "The Last Best Place." The applications, which would give Lipson exclusive right to the phrase in promoting travel, lodging and food services, as well as a wide array of retail items, are in the final phase of approval by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He already owns two trademarks reserving the phrase for use in promoting mail-order catalogs.

Several of Lipson's applications have entered a comment period with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Missoula author William Kittredge, who coined the phrase in 1988, has said he is "vehemently opposed" to Lipson's trademark bid.

Phil Davies