M-22 & M-119 Road Sign Trademark Denied by Michigan

Note: We have received some commentary from the attorney for M-22 which we have posted below!

M-22 Euphoria by Chris Cerk
M-22 Euphoria by Chris Cerk

The Detroit Free Press reports that M-22 and M-119 cannot be trademarked by private companies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has ruled that the highway sign logos are public property and as such cannot be “commandeered” for private use.

“Because the State of Michigan, the creator of the design, placed the Michigan highway route marker design in the public domain, no entity can lawfully obtain intellectual property protection of the design under trademark or copyright law,” Schuette concluded.

“…The fact that they have appropriated the design from the public domain and affixed it to merchandise does not create a legitimate basis for trademark protection.”

That’s probably not the best news at M-22, the clothing business that has made the sign an iconic symbol of active life in northwest lower Michigan, but it doesn’t look like the ruling precludes them selling clothing and other products with the road sign on it.

Speaking of M-22, they  are holding their annual M-22 Challenge this weekend at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The annual bike/run/kayak triathalon is a pretty cool spectator event if you’re in the area!

Here’s M-22 and M-119 (aka the Tunnel of Trees) on Wikipedia.

Commentary from Enrico Schaefer, Founding Partner at Traverse Legal, PLC

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette must know that trademarks, copyrights and other IP are matters of federal law. The State has no say in the matter. His opinion has no force under law at all. More importantly, his “opinion” is severely misguided and uninformed. Taken to its conclusion, no artist or photographer can have intellectual property rights in their artwork or photographs of state parks, buildings, landscapes, roads, etc. Public universities, funded with public dollars, could not hold IP either in their logos, trademarks or patents. Neither could the state of Michigan protect, for instance, its Pure Michigan campaign which has tens of millions of dollars invested in its campaign. It is also important to note that trademarking these road signs has literally no impact on the public domain rights. Assuming that these companies who have invested time and money creating IP rights around road signs to create valuable brands (no easy tasks for sure), the only impact is to keep someone from copying that use as a trademark. All other non-trademark uses, for instance to identify location, as always permitted. By limiting the trademark use to a single business who (a) was first in the market and (b) invested substantial money and risk in creating the market), companies are created which generate tax revenue and jobs. Without trademark protection, consumers are left with cheap knock-offs and imitations. Consumers can not identify source and the market is destroyed. What Schuette fails to comprehend is that without trademark protection, there can be no Nike or Microsoft or Google. Consumers would not buy products based on brand because consumers could never gauge quality based on a trustworthy source.

Thank goodness his overreaching is without effect, since the adverse impact to the Michigan intellectual property economy could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars or more. This appears to be just another example of overzealous government bureaucrats trying to expand their reach and control over Michigan businesses. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette proves once again he knows nothing about commerce and business. He has certainly proven he knows little about intellectual property.

The Daily Michigan: Massage at SolSpring

Today on The Daily Michigan we’re giving away relaxation, in the form of a 50 minute Massage at SolSpring.

SolSpring in Kalamazoo is a spa and wellness center that offers massage therapy, spa services, acupuncture, chiropractic care and naturopathy. They seek to provide a sanctuary where education, passion and experience serve one purpose – improved wellbeing.

Click here to sign up

February Michigan Event Calendar

Iron Works #2 - Cranbrook by MikeRyu
Iron Works #2 – Cranbrook by MikeRyu

Our Michigan February Event Calendar shows that the more the weather tries to keep us holed up, the more ways we find to get out and have fun!! Of course, there’s still many, many more and we invite you to fill us in on other February events in the comments.

February Fast FactsWikipedia

  • Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. 2012 is a Leap Year!
  • It has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar)
  • It is the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks.
  • Its birth flower is the Viola (plant) and the Primrose.
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst.

2011 Mackinac Bridge Walk ~ Monday, September 5, 2011

Mackinaw bridge walk by KatSwinehart
Mackinaw bridge walk by KatSwinehart

On Labor Day (Monday, September 5th) the 54th annual Mackinac Bridge Walk takes place. The walk is free to all and starts at 7 AM and you can leave any time up to 11 AM. They have a blog with information for and about the 400 runners who won the lottery for an opportunity to take part in the early morning Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run. It includes information for how to enter next year.

The first walk took place in the early morning hours of Labor Day, 1958. Just 68 people took that first 5 mile walk across the Mighty Mac. In the early years, it seems that the walk was sparsely attended and viewed as an annoyance until the Governor was brought in to lead the walk. The walk averages 50,000 to 65,000 attendees and the record is estimated to be 85,000 when George H. W. Bush led the walk in 1992.

In 2007, the Mackinac Bridge marked its 50th anniversary and Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures posted a TON of information about the Mighty Mac that you can see on our Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge page.

Here’s a cool video from the Michigan Department of Transportation about last year’s walk that features Lawrence Rubin, one of the primary people behind the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Another nice video is the one we featured last year that you can watch on YouTube!

Michigan by the Bottle: LPVA Wineries Stomp Into Fall

mbtbToday’s post comes to us courtesy Shannon & Cortney Casey of Michigan by the Bottle. Since it quotes Absolute Michigan’s own Andrew McFarlane, it’s probably best that we have a third party writing it anyway! Make sure to scroll down on the details of their giveaway of a pair of tickets to the Harvest Stompede and also how to have a shot at a pair that Absolute Michigan will be giving away as well!

Through the Vineyards III by lpwines
Through the Vineyards III by lpwines

The season wineries eagerly await year-round is upon us, and the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association will usher it in in fabulous, footloose fashion with its annual Harvest Stompede. The event features fantastic food and wine pairings at participating LPVA wineries — with unique dishes at every stop — and kicks off with a 7-mile run and 5K run/walk through the grapevines Sept. 10.

The LPVA has kindly supplied MBTB with two tickets to give away to the fall festivities, set for September 10-11. Getting entered to win is easy; we’ll tell you more about that in a moment!

If you’re not too keen on running for your vino, no worries — participation in that segment of the celebration is strictly voluntary. The only requirement for the self-guided vineyard tour portion of the event is to have your thirst and appetite at the ready.

EcoTrek Fitness uses nature as your gym

Working the BandsAbsolute Michigan got a taste of a new wave in outdoor fitness with EcoTrek Fitness last week. EcoTrek Fitness is a West Michigan company that just launched a program in Traverse City. Sarah Carden & I were lucky enough to get a sneak preview last week from EcoTrek founder Cari Draft and Traverse City series leader Georg Schluender.

With the EcoTrek Fitness motto in mind, “integrating your workouts with nature”, we combed our closet for workout outfits and met Cari and Georg on the trails behind at the Grand Traverse Commons. Cari & Georg handed us our resistance bands and we were off into the trees for a session on a beautiful spring day.

Trail RunningAs we trotted down a tree-lined path, Cari explained, “When most people think of outdoor exercise, they think of jogging. And that can turn a lot of people off. EcoTrek uses nature and man-made ‘props’ to get in a great workout.”

Right after explaining this, she stopped us on a wooden bridge above a picturesque creek. We wrapped our resistance bands around the handrails and used them for exercises that worked the arms and legs. The exercises were low- intensity but worked a surprising amount of muscles in our arms, legs and core.

Each session lasts for 75 minutes and take place at a variety of days and times to help fit into all kinds of schedules. They even have single-session drop-in rates so you can try it out with no committment.

Cari, who is an ACE certified fitness trainer with an additional outdoor certification in a Nike training program, is excited to be expanding her program to Northern Michigan but has been careful not too expand too fast despite its popularity. Her website boasts that if you’re in West Michigan, you’re never more than 15 minutes from an EcoTrek Fitness workout.

With EcoTrek Fitness series available throughout western Michigan in places like Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo and Muskegon (and many more), Cari has been careful to keep the same elements in every session no matter where you are. The sessions run year-round in the sun, rain, sleet and snow.

Taking a Seat“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Cari says before we stop to stretch on a picnic table. “Being out in bad weather can make for a surprisingly fun experience. On rainy days, I usually find myself jumping in puddles. There’s really nothing better than using the outdoors as your gym.”

Once our session ended, we were hooked on the EcoTrek workout. As people who would much rather cycle, hike or hit the basketball court then step into a hot, stinky gym, Absolute Michigan had a blast using our backyard as a gym and Cari and Georg were great. In fact, they did what this writer thought was nearly impossible, made an organized workout with a professional fitness instructor fun.

Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough: Great Hikes Just Around Corner

By Bob Lovik, photos by Mark Lindsay

I really enjoy the first two months of winter. The dropping temperatures are refreshing. There’s the anticipation of the holidays and the over-indulgences that come with them. And I love the snow. The first, fat flakes of pretty white snow. What’s not to love?

High Rollaways winter hike  by Happyhiker4
High Rollaways winter hike by Happyhiker4

But our recent spat of spring-like weather, though painfully short, has reminded me that I’m over winter. It has outstayed its welcome and we are smack dab in the middle of the long, claustrophobic and  cold doldrums when winter is just greedily clinging to its existence like some awful drunk who won’t leave your party.  When the temperature recently hit 50 º and the sun came, and stayed, out, winter officially ended for me. My daydreams are now filled with trilliums, birdsong and shouldering a pack and hitting the trail. This is the time of year when guidebooks are bought and the kitchen table becomes an ops center, strewn with maps detailing the promise of upcoming adventures.

With these thoughts in mind, I headed over to Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City to talk hiking with two of Michigan’s experts. John Heiam, president of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club (GTHC), and Dick Naperala, field trails coordinator with the GTHC. They both generously took time to talk to me about some great spring hikes, the North Country Trail and ways to get involved with the outdoors in the Grand Traverse Region. The  GTHC helps to oversee a 100-mile stretch of the North Country Trail, a 4,600-mile trail that stretches from New York to North Dakota and runs through some of America’s most beautiful country.

Valley of the Giants  by North Country Trail
Valley of the Giants by North Country Trail

John Heiam: Let’s start with sections of the North Country Trail and close to Traverse City. One of my favorites is the north branch of the Boardman River. Starting at the N. Broomhead Road Trailhead, the southern trail takes you down right next to a trout stream and next to cedar trees that deer have browsed to about seven feet high. The trail then climbs and you get views down into the river valley. It’s absolutely gorgeous and right in our backyard. Take the trail north to Sand Lakes Quiet Area to see the brilliant blue pit lakes. You can easily spend two hours, if not more, hiking here.

Another great place to hike in the Traverse City area is a place called the Valley of the Giants. This is a very steep-sided valley that has never been logged and is a patch of old growth forest. It was so steep nobody bothered to log it and it is very wet so it never burned in the wild fires that swept through Michigan in the late 1800′s and 1900′s. You’ll find white and red pines and huge oak trees right next to a creek. The trailhead for this hike is either the Mayfield Road Trail Access or near Scheck’s Place Campground.

High Rollaways  by Happyhiker4
High Rollaways by Happyhiker4

Dick Neperala: The Highbanks Rollway is one of the best places to hike in the state of Michigan. It is on the North Country Trail and can be accessed at Harvey Bridge over the Manistee River. Once you gain elevation, you can see for miles.

The Hodenpyl Dam and Pond area are some of the most popular places in Michigan to hike especially for backpackers. There is a 20 mile loop around Hodenpyl Pond that is perfect for a weekend trip. From the Hodenpyl Dam Parking area you can walk along the lake to the Northern Exposure Campground. And the trail that is right along the river is easy. It is flat and great for kids.

John and Dick shared some more of their knowledge for great outdoor spots in our area this spring.

Wildflowers: If you are looking for wildflowers, and those aforementioned trilliums, mid-April and May are generally the best times to hit the trail. And head to North and South Manitou Island for the most diverse and unique wildflowers in our region. Ferries depart to the island from the town of Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula. South Manitou is more scenic with a lighthouse, shipwrecks and dunes while North Manitou provides better opportunities for backpacking and multi-day trips.

Sleeping Bear Sandunes  by Happyhiker4
Sleeping Bear Sandunes by Happyhiker4

Most overlooked hike: The Dune Climb and walk to Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. John says that the hike is deceptively difficult and once you climb the main dune, you’ll have a few more smaller ones to get up and down before you finish. He also says the wildflowers; lilies in particular, are spectacular here in the spring.

Why early spring is a great time to hike: No bugs! Both John and Dick say that this time of year is among their favorites for hitting the trail. And, the forests of the Sleeping Bear Dunes are carpeted with trilliums this time of year.

About the GTHC and the North Country Trail: The GTHC is a chapter of the North Country Trail. The club maintains a 100-mile stretch of trail, 35 to 40 of which run along the Manistee River, from south of Mesick to north of Kalkaska. People come from all over Michigan to hike one of the most beautiful sections of the NCT. John calls the 60- mile section from Red Bridge to Kalkaska the prettiest trail in Lower Michigan.  In addition to planned day hikes, the club also has ongoing work sessions on the trail including maintenance, bridge building and rerouting.

Visit for information on volunteering, local outfitters, membership, trail maps and contact details. The club is currently fundraising by selling “clean seats” through the club or at Backcountry North in Traverse City for $6 /$5 for club members. The seats are a paper-like material that you can put on the ground, wet grass, mud, anything to keep you dry when you need a rest in the outdoors. The seats are made from tough material that won’t rip or deteriorate, definitely a great addition for your pack on day and multi-day hikes!

Michigan Runners Run Across Ethiopia

A number of runners & support team members from Michigan and elsewhere in the US are underway with the Run Across Ethiopia, a 400km ultramarathon to raise funds and awareness for Ethiopian education. DONATE HERE!

Absolute Michigan’s Andrew McFarlane is involved in this effort and (since he has the keys to our blog) we let him post this!

Starting on January 8, 2011 and continuing to the 20th, a small group of runners are running 400 kilometers across Southern Ethiopia as part of a campaign to generate awareness and funding to build & maintain schools in Ethiopia. The Run Across Ethiopia aims to raise $100,000 for Ethiopian education projects, including the construction of schools in other coffee-growing communities. You can tune into RAE Live for daily updates and also get updates at the Run Across Ethiopia Facebook.

More than 600 years ago, merchants trekked through the mountains and valleys of Ethiopia to export the world’s first cultivated coffee beans, but in modern-day Ethiopia many coffee farmers and their families live in dire poverty. Education, health care, and access to water are all very limited. In the Yirgacheffe region, where some of the world’s most unique and sought-after coffees originate, little more than half the region’s children complete primary school. The adult literacy rate is 36 percent. Life expectancy is 53 years.

You can get video updates on YouTube from Jacob Wheeler of the Glen Arbor Sun and also from On the Ground Global (here’s Michigan musicians Seth Bernard & May Erlewine at the New Hope Academy in Ethiopia!). Here’s a great video by James & Jamaica Weston that explains the who, why and how of this effort! You can contribute to their documentary at Kickstarter!

Photo used by permission of Timothy Fitzgerald Young and are (c) copyright 2010 On The Ground, Inc. All rights reserved.

Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk – Monday, September 6 2010

The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk has been held every year on Labor Day since the Bridge opened in 1957, and Monday, September 6, 2010 is the date of the 53rd annual walk. Read on for information and a cool video of the walk!

Walkers in the Mackinac Bridge Walk from the tower!Strangely enough, Wikipedia seems to have the most historical information on the walk (which is not much). They say that the first walk took place in the early morning hours of Labor Day, 1958. and that just 68 people took that first 5 mile walk across the Mighty Mac. In the early years, it seems that the walk was sparsely attended and viewed as an annoyance until the governor was brought in to lead the walk. The walk averages 50,000 to 65,000 attendees and the record is estimated to be 85,000 when George H. W. Bush led the walk in 1992.

The Governor’s party leads the way at 7 AM with registered and pre-qualified joggers (details from the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness). Important things to note (according to the official site) are that traffic still moves across the bridge during the event, that it starts on the St. Ignace side, that the last walkers have to start by 11 AM, that they really recommend you figure your return transport out, that it’s FREE (my capitalization) and that there are NO RESTROOMS ON THE BRIDGE (their capitalization).

The Michigan Department of Transportation has a photo gallery from past Mackinac Bridge Walks. The Mackinac BridgeA photographer named Chuck contributed one of his photos from the bridge walk to Wikimedia, and he has a nice gallery of Mackinac Bridge Walk photos. A search of Flickr finds some bridge walk pics as well (hopefully more after this year’s walk!). Do you have more links? Post ‘em in the comments and please share your story/photos if you walk this year! If you click that button to the right, you can get a ridiculous amount of information on the Mighty Mac!

Now here’s that video…

Wine Time in TC: Harvest Stompede & Old Mission Wine & Food Celebration

If you’re looking for a reason to get back to Traverse City this fall, we’ve got two!

Beautiful! by Pentax K1000 Gal

The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) have teamed together with area restaurants for the third annual Old Mission Peninsula Wine & Food Celebration. The event takes place this Saturday (September 12) from 3-8 PM at Bowers Harbor Park on the Old Mission Peninsula.

A ticket includes a souvenir glass, wine tasting tickets and live music from the Northwestern Michigan College Community Concert Band. Menu offerings will range in price from $3-$10.

For further information, call 231.944.1300.

2008 Harvest Stompede051
2008 Harvest Stompede051 by lpwines

The Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association’s annual Harvest Stompede Vineyard Run & Walk and Wine Tour over the weekend of September 19 & 20. It’s considered one of the most scenic running & wine touring events in the Midwest and is returning to the Leelanau Peninsula for the eighth year.

The race itself is the kickoff of the weekends festivities and will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 9 a.m. Designed for both serious and recreational runners & walkers, it’s a great event for spectators as well. Race coordinator Nate Rousse says “This is a one-of-a-kind annual run sponsored by the Traverse City Track Club and hosted by the Leelanau Peninsula winemakers. The course winds through absolutely gorgeous vineyards and is open to the public only on race day.”

The Harvest Stompede Wine Tour follows the race and offers a special pour and food celebrating the season at each of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association member wineries.

There are still some tickets available and you can get tickets and more information on the Harvest Stompede page at the LPVA web site. Also check out these slideshows from the 2007 and 2008 Harvest Stompede!