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Fraser battles Minnesota city for ‘Icebox of the Nation’ title

5:47 PM, Feb 20, 2007   |    comments
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City officials in the town of less than 1,000 have filed for a federal trademark on the nickname "Icebox of the Nation," hoping to snatch the title from another chilly locale, International Falls, Minn.

The Minnesota city of about 6,300 on Monday acknowledged it had inadvertently failed to renew its federal trademark back in 1996, even while keeping a state trademark up to date.

International Falls officials say they didn't even know their trademark had expired until a Denver Post reporter called them with Fraser's news last week.

"No, no, no!" International Falls Mayor Shawn Mason told the paper. "The city owns the trademark. The council just renewed it a few months ago."

The battle won't be the first for the chilly municipalities. Fraser has claimed the "Icebox" title since 1956, but gave up its "official" claim back in 1986, for a payment of $2,000 from International Falls.

"We were surprised to hear that Fraser is doing this because we thought we had a deal with them," City Administrator Rod Otterness said in a news release Monday. "We have been using the trademark 'Icebox of the Nation' nationally and internationally. The Town of Fraser conceded this trademark and signed it over to the City of International Falls 17 years ago."

Fraser town manager Jeff Durbin contends his community has a stronger claim to the title.

"The most important piece, in terms of whether or not you can get the trademark, is who started using the trademark first," he said. "We are really pleased as punch to be moving forward."

Otterness sounded ready to defend the title when he learned of the controversy last week.

"We beat them once, and I'm sure we can beat them again," he said.

Ironically, not everyone in Fraser is enamored with the idea of being known for bone-chilling temperatures.

Last year, some in the business community sought to dump the monicker, concerned that it undercut marketing efforts. Locals beat back the measure, taking pride in the area's brutal cold.

"It was pretty loud and clear that the vast majority of the community said: `Hold on. This is reflective of who we are,"' Durbin said.

Fraser, which sits in a valley, reports an average annual temperature of 34.8 degrees with winter lows sinking to 40 degrees below zero.

(Copyright Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.)

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