Almost a decade ago I discovered the joy of sliding on the snow along with the difficulty in navigating the weather and conditions, and as a result a year later I rediscovered my younger self's interest in meteorology and forecasting. In October of 2018 I started a Facebook group in order to share my passion, help others with similar needs, and test the waters to see if there was enough interest to maybe turn this into a business.

One month later following an anomalous series of early season nor'easters and an overwhelming response, my buddy Brad and I decided it was time to choose a name and so we started a one month long process of brainstorming, focus grouping, and researching trademarks and active use of a variety of possible names. On December 18, 2018 we narrowed our choices down to SKIOLOGY and SNOWOLOGY which we found to be equally perfect, but ended up going with Skiology as the name of our new venture simply because the domain name was cheaper in the aftermarket. That domain name was owned by a then defunct business that sold booster straps for ski boots in the Seattle and Vancouver markets dating back to the early 2000's. I first announced our name of our new venture to the Facebook community at the end of the season in April.

The community had already grown to over 4,000 skiers and riders in the space of that first season and it wasn't simply a joyous and friendly community, it became a crowdsourcing powerhouse and influential. You can't google how the glades were holding up across the region, but with one post you would know within an hour along with photos and descriptions from that day. I learned so much from this experience and still do to this day, and that was a really special time in our shared history.

As we were starting the ramp up to the next ski season the following September, I changed the name of the Facebook group to reflect the name of our business. That was also the day I learned about a small ski shop named Skiology Ski and Sports that specialized in tuning skis for racers located in Killington, VT about 4 miles from the resort. The shop's owners also became aware of us at the same time.

I was alarmed, upset, and honestly embarrassed by the discovery. I was confused as to how I had missed this store in my searches. At that time a business named Skiology Chalets in the UK dominated search results. They had a very similar logo to this ski shop which may have confused me, and it is possible that the shop at that time had no active web presence or maybe had been dropped from indexing as a result of changes and which may have also been reflected by the changes and gaps in the indexing on for their website. It is also possible that this was simply an oversight on my part. It's of course impossible to view the results of that search again from 9 months prior much less over 5 years later.

Within an hour of this discovery I was on the phone with a very experienced intellectual property attorney to see if this was a problem. I was advised that there was probably enough of a difference between a retail ski store specializing in ski tuning with a limited presence and an online weather and conditions service covering ski areas for this not to be a problem. Our products would not be confused for each other's. Being a responsible lawyer he also threw in the caveat that there was no telling how the ski shop might view the situation.

Fast forward 3 years and 4 months later I found out. Without ever having had contact with the owners of this shop they filed a lawsuit against both me and my business in January of 2023 based on a common law trademark claim.

Settling the Case

The case was officially settled last October. In the end I agreed to rebrand my business as SNOWOLOGY after the peak ski season was over, and they agreed to purchase our Skiology-branded domain names, which will be transferred to them in November.

Some of you have been aware of this lawsuit as a result of a handful of bad actors on the internet with dozens of aliases who bore false witness while spreading wholly false and disparaging claims in order to try to cause me harm; an effort that I'm afraid stretches back all the way to immediately after the COVID closures of the ski industry and has even resulted in numerous threats and rampant impersonation of me and my business. I can only assume that their claims and the impersonation were alarming to the ski shop's owners. I hope that everyone will understand my refusal to participate in that, and appreciate my unwillingness to discuss the details of this matter before as well as beyond what is here because that's actually the appropriate way to approach such issues when you are seeking a settlement as well as post-settlement. My goal was not to shape public opinion; it was a trademark case between two very small businesses after all, and my lawyer was reasonably confident that there was no concern of damages nor losing our domain names. Trademark cases are impossibly expensive to see through to a verdict, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is why 98% of these cases are settled. So my goal was simply to settle the case on reasonable terms and move on. Look forward and not backwards, work hard, continue to do good things, help people, and become successful in this venture as we chart a path forward.

This was resolved 6 months ago and while this may be new to almost everyone, I'm honestly beyond being over it and I'm pretty sure that virtually everyone else will be also within a day or two.

Onwards and Upwards

This may seem like a big change but the only thing that has changed is simply our name. I'm actually quite excited to have finally reached this milestone and return to focus on other matters as soon as we finish our rebranding which will be almost entirely finished tonight. I'm happy to say that we have had a successful first season under the subscription model even if I can't say the same thing for the snowfall and the temperatures in the Northeast, but I'm confident there are some more powder days to be had before our season is over. I'll be back on the slopes myself next week!

Snowology is of course more than a one person effort, it also includes Luis, Deane, and and now Cole who will be helping us get to the next phase of introducing weather app capabilities, but to be more specific, a skiing and riding weather, conditions, and information app. This is a huge task, but it's always been our end game and I'm really excited to carry our momentum forward into this third phase of our business.

I also can't thank everyone enough who has joined, followed, participated, contributed their knowledge, supported our efforts, and now subscribed. I really, really enjoyed the good old days in the Facebook group and much of what I know came from everyone who participated there. Most of all though I want to acknowledge Lisa, Mellie, Kim, Melissa, Rik, Jeff, JJ, Fred, and Dave who have volunteered their time and expertise in helping to run that community as well as those who preceded them. It's harder and more complex than you think. They're now in charge and working to bring the group into its next chapter in life. None of this would have been possible without every one of you and the community that we all built together.

Long live Snowology!

-- Matt