Baucus Tries to Stop “Last Best Place” Trademark

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Sen. Max Baucus says the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a measure to keep the phrase “The Last Best Place” from being trademarked.

Baucus, D-Mont., said he included language in the fiscal year 2009 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to protect the slogan, which is commonly used to describe Montana.

“There is no way I’m going to stand by and let someone gain the rights to it,” he said. “That’s like trying to take the term ‘Big Sky Country’ or ‘Treasure State.’ It won’t fly with folks around our state and it won’t fly with me.”

The trademark battle dates to 2002, when Las Vegas businessman David Lipson tried to gain exclusive rights to the term for his Resort at Paws Up in the Blackfoot Valley and other businesses.

Resort spokesman John Romfo declined to comment Friday on the latest legislative move.

In recent years, Baucus has introduced annual appropriations language that prevents the slogan from being trademarked by prohibiting the U.S. Department of Commerce from spending funds to approve a trademark. Each request is effective for only a year because it is tied to the department’s budget.

“The Last Best Place” is a well-known Montana slogan first popularized as the title of a 1988 anthology co-edited by Missoula writers William Kittredge and Annick Smith. In the years since, it has seen unrestrained commercial use.

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