A Utah firm has sued a Boothbay businessman and two of his companies, alleging they illegally used the firm’s patented design to build an ice palace earlier this year as a tourist attraction on Route 27.
Lester Spear of Boothbay allegedly consulted with La Belle Lake Ice Palace LLC, an Idaho firm, about how to construct a human-sized ice castle using running water in setting up the Boothbay Ice Palace.
A patent infringement lawsuit similar to the one Ice Castles filed Tuesday against Spear in U.S. District Court in Portland is pending against the company in federal court in Pocatello, Idaho.
Ice Castles, based in American Fork, Utah, is seeking unspecified damages from Spear and his businesses Cameron Clan Snack Co. LLC, operating as Food Trucks A-Go, and Harbor Enterprises Marketing and Production LLC. The firm also is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Spear from using Ice Castle’s patented construction process in the future.
Spear, 49, was unaware Wednesday that the lawsuit had been filed and declined to comment.
A Portland attorney for the Utah firm did not immediately return a request for comment.
Spear opened his frozen palace, lit by 85,000 Christmas lights, in February, according to the Lincoln County News. It was located at Food Trucks A-Go at 798 Wiscasset Road, and featured three food trucks selling burgers, pizza, chowder, fish sandwiches, kettle corn, fudge, drinks and other snacks.
The castle used a design in which water flowed over columns and tubes and froze to form the shape, the newspaper reported. The castle was also sprayed with running water.
Spear said that it was the first ice palace in Maine made from running water. It was open in February with an admission price of $9. Children under 5 were admitted for free.
Ice Castles began as a hobby for owner Brent Christiansen in the winter of 2008 to 2009, according to the company’s court complaint. The following winter, a nearby resort hired Christiansen to create an ice structure on its front lawn.
Christiansen experimented and perfected his design, which was granted a patent in 2013, the lawsuit said.
The patent is for a specific method of building an ice structure using a framework of icicles and adding to the amount of ice.
Spear’s defense could be similar to what La Belle Lake Ice Palace owners are arguing in Idaho.
Christiansen’s patent in Utah specifically refers to icicles throughout. If neither Spear nor the Idaho firm used icicles but instead used frozen tubes of water to create the structures, they would not be infringing on the patent, lawyers in the Idaho case have argued.
The Maine lawsuit claims that Spear was aware there was a patent on the design when he built his ice structure earlier this year. It also alleges that Spear plans to build a larger ice palace during the 2021-22 winter season in spite of knowing about the patent.
“If we move to a different spot, we can make it bigger and people can have a fuller experience,” Spear told the Lincoln County News in February.
Ice Castles has grown to multiple states, including Colorado, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and welcomes thousands of visitors during the winter months, the lawsuit claims.