Friday, January 16, 2015

National Parks Battle Over Trademark Rights to Souvenirs and T-Shirts

Yosemite Valley, 2013
Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons / CC
According to USA Today, the National Park Service has become embroiled in a bitter and unusually public trademark dispute with the two private companies that run most of the hotels, restaurants and stores located inside the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.

At Yosemite National Park in California, longtime concessionare Delaware North is demanding that anyone who takes over the contract pay it tens of millions of dollars to use the names that it has trademarked, including "Yosemite National Park," in connection with souvenirs and clothing.  Delaware North is competing to keep the contracts.

The National Park Service argues that a new concessionaire could simply give those iconic places new names if it wins a new concession contract.  The park itself wouldn't be renamed, but the trademarks apply to any souvenirs and clothing sold to promote the locations.

At the Grand Canyon, concessionaire Xanterra has been similarly competing for the contract rights to run the park's South Rim lodges and restaurants. 

Scott Gediman, a ranger and spokesman for Yosemite National Park, reportedly told USA Today:  "We feel Half Dome and El Capitan and the Ahwahnee Hotel (and other trademarked names at Yosemite) are part of the national park's fabric. We feel those names are inextricably linked with Yosemite … and ultimately belong to the American people."

Delaware North officials say their original contract required them to buy the intellectual property owned by the previous concessionaire, and they're asking for nothing different should they lose out to a competitor.

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