Keta Legacy Foundation Sues The Mountaineers: 2021 Year End Update

Two years after Keta Legacy Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against The Mountaineers, we remain steadfast in our defense. Read this update about our work to defend the future of The Mountaineers and the wishes of our donors.
Tom Vogl Tom Vogl
CEO, The Mountaineers
December 03, 2021

Two years ago, Keta Legacy Foundation (Keta) filed a lawsuit against The Mountaineers. Keta sued The Mountaineers, claiming they had superior rights in our name, which we had previously authorized Keta to use as the “Mountaineers Foundation.” In addition to wanting to continue to trade on our name to capture donations, Keta also seeks to prevent us from using our own name – The Mountaineers – to raise funds for charitable purposes.

We’ve been The Mountaineers since 1906 and are vigorously defending ourselves against these unfounded attacks. As 2021 draws to a close, I wanted to share another update on the status of these critically important efforts.

BACKGROUND

Since Keta first filed this lawsuit against The Mountaineers, we’ve provided periodic updates to our community. We’ve done so in the spirit of transparency and because it’s such an important issue for both our donors and the well-being of The Mountaineers.

I encourage members to read previous blog posts to learn more about the background of Keta’s lawsuit and efforts we’ve taken to resolve their claims amicably. We made a good faith offer to resolve this to Keta, and sought to meet with Keta’s board to hash out our differences. Despite these efforts, Keta never even responded with their own proposal to our settlement offer, and ultimately declined to meet with us.  It is our goal to resolve this dispute and focus our organizational efforts on donor funds and meaningful projects, but we can’t put this case behind us outside of court without a willing partner.   

CURRENT STATUS

After months of exchanging documents and taking testimony, we have found nothing to suggest that Keta has any rights in the name beyond those granted by The Mountaineers. There is no evidence to suggest that a donor has ever mistakenly given money to The Mountaineers intending for it to go to Keta. But we have uncovered multiple prior instances where donors believed they were donating to The Mountaineers but mistakenly donated to Keta as a result of Keta’s confusing marketing practices. 

As the discovery process has now drawn to a close, we are even more confident that Keta’s meritless lawsuit will fail.

THE PATH AHEAD

Despite our efforts to resolve the lawsuit by Keta amicably and without further legal expenses, we’ve resigned ourselves to the unfortunate reality that resolution will likely only come through additional legal action. Last week, The Mountaineers filed a motion with the court to dismiss Keta’s claims based on documents and written testimony we submitted that demonstrates The Mountaineers owns the trademarks and has a right to continued access to the Preserve. Keta, after having filed the lawsuit claiming the marks were protectable, has changed course and has now filed its own motion to dismiss our claims, arguing that the Mountaineers trademarks are generic and not protectable by anyone. In the months ahead we will be preparing to defend ourselves should the Court rule that the case needs to be tried.

As we’ve shared all along, the heart of this dispute is about honoring the wishes of donors. We continue to urge donors who wish to make a gift to The Mountaineers to use our website (www.mountaineers.org ) or send a gift directly to our Seattle mailing address (7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115). We also encourage donors to specify The Mountaineers tax ID number (27-3009280) when making gifts of securities, employer match contributions, and estate gifts, and to use this ID number when updating wills. Likewise, people who wish to make donations to Keta Legacy Foundation may do so on their website or by directing gifts to their mailing address in Bremerton, WA.

We will continue to honor our commitment to The Mountaineers community to provide ongoing updates about the Keta lawsuit and our efforts to defend the interests of the organization and our donors. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns: my email address is tomv@mountaineers.org and my direct phone number is 206-521-6009.

Main Image by Travis Prescott.


The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions, tax ID:27-3009280, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.


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Dick Hayek
Dick Hayek says:
Jan 01, 2022 09:34 AM

This problem would have been avoided if the Mountaineers Foundation had been dissolved before the Mountaineers was made a 501c3.