Recreation, Sport & Gear Representation and Defense
Merithew Law provides comprehensive general counsel and business legal services for the recreation, sport, and gear industry and clientele This practice entails Merithew Law’s business development and consulting, liability analysis and risk management, contracts and liability waivers, product liability analysis and testing, assistance with instructions and warnings and litigation defense management for recreation gear designers, manufacturers, and distributors as well as a variety of recreation outfitters and rental companies, such as surf shops, bike parks, zip line and canopy tours, whitewater rafting companies, guide services, and other gear and recreation businesses. Merithew Law has worked with a number of manufacturers, including, but not limited to, bicycle and bike component, board sports, paddle components, tent and suspension tent, slackline and other suspension, rigging, or climbing equipment companies.
Merithew Law has geographically positioned itself, with offices in Asheville, North Carolina and Fort Collins, Colorado, to be convenient and up to date with recreational products, activities, and trends in the industry. Forrest himself is an avid outdoors person and regularly spends time pursuing and participating in outdoor adventure activities and sports. Whether it be running, water recreation and paddlesports, organized sports, summer and adventure camps, biking or atv riding, climbing and mountaineering, snowboarding and skiing, or hiking and camping, Forrest enjoys all opportunities to be and enjoy the outdoors, while at the same time learning about and experiencing new recreational activities and gear. Jake has personal experience with Outdoor Recreation and Gear retailers including intellectual property and ecommerce work and services.
With our experience and interest in outdoor recreation and the gear needed to enjoy such activities, we are well versed with many of those activities and the products and tools involved. This familiarity allows us to have a greater understanding of not only the activities and movements themselves, but also the legal issues and elements involved, whether it be a personal injury, manufacturing defect or other product liability allegation, or other litigation matter involving outdoor recreation and the businesses that foster it.
Merithew Law works with individuals and brands in the Outdoor Recreation, Sport and Gear industry with ideas and/or products they wish to develop into a commercial enterprise and also with established businesses and companies selling a product, services, or experiences. Merithew Law’s comprehensive general counsel services, combined with Merithew Law’s personal and professional experience and familiarity with a wide range of outdoor recreation activities, sports, and gear, are applied to outdoor recreation companies with success. The familiarity with the industry and its products and standards, allows Merithew Law to not only recommend continued steps for Clients as they move forward, but at the same time to protect their growth and success.
Merithew Law can assist with entity selection and formation, investment and partnerships between owners, contracts and liability waivers, and then more specific legal issues depending on the type of business of the Client and endeavors and goals. The purpose of these services is to increase our Clients’ success through their customer and client satisfaction by providing top notch services and products, while providing clear instructions and warnings to decrease accidents and subsequent claims (personal injury, product liability, or other) or complaints. Further, by having systems in place that create affirmative and other defenses for our Client’s we can potentially greatly reduce future claims and/or provide processes which, allow Clients to remove themselves or resolve litigation much more quickly and, therein, cheaper in the long run.
One of the first goals of risk management is to separate and insulate business owners from the liabilities of the company or commercial endeavor. At the same time, the Firm assists companies and owners with entity structure to achieve investment goals and needs, future growth, and strategic partnerships that could be utilized for growth and sustainable success. Moving forward, as a business grows, the Firm is available to draft, review, and negotiate contracts or liability waivers with the purpose of meeting the Client’s needs and protecting its growth and success.
Merithew Law represents and works with a range of design and manufacturers of products regularly used and innovative in the outdoor recreation and gear community. Merithew Law not only works with product companies before they even exist, but is well versed on jumping in with a company who already is selling a product commercially, but wishes to take the next step in business and legal growth. Services provided by Merithew Law to recreation and sport gear companies and manufacturers, includes, but is not limited to, initial product development legal analysis and input, testing of the product from a potential liability standpoint, review and analysis of instructions and warnings with recommendations to strengthen and improve based upon legal precedence and strict product liability theories of recovery. Because of our California licenses and experience we are familiar with California’s stringent strict product liability laws. As those laws and theories of recovery are the most consumer friendly in the Country, preparation for them allows our Clients to be best prepared for all jurisdictions, states, and countries.
A large part of outdoor recreation involves the ability to “contract” away liability. This is particular true under the assumption of risk theory of involvement by the product user or activity participant. With products, this work is applied mostly on the forefront with respect to the development of the product itself and the accompanying instructions and warnings. However, Merithew Law can continue to be involved and assist such a company with risk management through handling of claims and working with a company to prevent further exposure via marketing and/or social media images and materials.
When it comes to companies putting on activities for and/or renting gear to the general public (such as rafting companies and outfitters, tubing and SUP rentals, ski resorts, bike and skate parks, and more), their primary opportunity to limit liability is with a liability waiver. While in the past, such liability waivers would be enforced with the application of general blanket language, this is no longer the case. With the continual increase of activities, participants, and gear to not only perform those activities, but engage in new activities with ties to those a more traditional history, the range of risks has increased greatly. To better serve the public, Courts have really begun to analyze liability waivers in detail and require them to accurately provide the Clientele with knowledge of the risks in which they will be engaging in order to be enforceable.
Merithew Law works with a wide range of companies, many in the outdoor recreation community, and activities in drafting contracts and liability waivers/assumption of risk documents to protect the business, its owners, agents, employees, and success.
Merithew Law assists Clients with their intellectual property needs and steps, particularly in the branding and trademark realm. We provide consultation and registration services, follow up with and securement of applications and finalization, and other proprietary needs and protections. We also assist Clients to prevent infringement and enforce Client’s proprietary needs and rights. We have referral patent counsel if a Client needs services in that realm. Our experience and background within this industry allows more comprehensive consultation and work with respect to intellectual property needs, as the competition within an industry is the strongest and most important for businesses to consider and take into account in making branding and other proprietary decisions.
We are available to consult and work with outdoor recreation companies and outfitters across the United States. If representation in Court or litigation is needed outside of North Carolina or California (and Colorado in the near future), he may be able to be admitted pro hac vice with local counsel. Merithew Law also provides general counsel services in the form of managing litigation for the Client, by locating and securing adequate counsel in another jurisdiction, assisting with the management of costs and strategy, and further work providing support to the Client by handling litigation, which allows the Client and Company to do what they do best and focus on operations, production, distribution, and/or services to their clientele and customers. In the meantime, we are always able to provide business development advice, liability analysis and risk management consulting, and further outdoor recreation, and gear, legal and business support.
Finally, with our heavy involvement in the industry and the modern age of marketing and social media, we can work with product companies in an ambassadorship role in which we assist with the promotion of a Client’s products, services, or other marketing and materials via personal use, depending on the specific role and situation.