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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Yosemite Trademark Mess, Will See For Myself

On March 21, The Washington Post wrote:
The four-thousand-foot-high granite crest of Half Dome, which looks like a bell cut clean down the middle, towers over lush, forested valley at the heart of Yosemite National Park. It is a sight to see — arguably the most recognized sight in the 745,000-acre expanse of sequoia-studded canyons and lofty mountain peaks. 
But Yosemite doesn’t own it. 
Or at least, the park doesn’t own the famous Half Dome image that’s become a fixture on water bottles, keychains and all manner of other park paraphernalia. That trademark instead belongs to Delaware North, the company that until recently ran hotels, activities and concessions at America’s first federally-designated park. And when Delaware North left Yosemite this month — having lost its concessions contract and then filed a lawsuit over the bidding process — it took the Half Dome logo, other famous place names, and some uses of the very phrase “Yosemite National Park” along with it. 
Now, an ugly legal fight over naming rights is unfolding in this beloved wildernesses. On one side, there’s the U.S government, which claims that Delaware North surreptitiously accumulated those iconic trademarks during the two decades it managed Yosemite’s concessions and is now demanding that the park pay to get them all back. On the other side, Delaware North says that it is only asking that the new concessionaire pay full value for the intellectual property it’s getting along with the park’s horse stables and hotels, just as Delaware North once had to do.
[To read more of The Washington Post's article, go here.]

Late next week, I will be heading to Yosemite National Park and will see first hand (unless a miracle happens between now and then) the changes the U.S. government felt it had to make due to Delaware North's lawsuit.

This mess will likely not be resolved anytime soon. It is estimated that this fight will drag on through 2017.

While I am on the side of the government in this fight, I still have to shake my head at how the government allowed Delaware North to trademark things and places that rightfully belong to the American people.

Ed Hughes posted this at the Boycott Delaware North Facebook page:
This is what happens when people with absolutely no business experience, or business sense for that matter, are in charge of government. Delaware North did nothing illegal. In fact, they did what every business does on a daily basis all across the country, they trademark their brand names. Delaware North followed the well laid out law. If this was a problem the government could have, and probably should have, denied them trademark protection. They did not. 
Simply put, the NPS should have trademarked the names when they decided to contract with a private sector company. Their ignorance in business practices is the sole reason for this mess.
While it may have been "legal" for Delaware North to obtain the trademarks in question, one has to question the ethics of the subsequent actions they took when they lost the concessionaire contract to Aramark. Delaware North's demand in their lawsuit amounts to demanding $51 million in ransom.

In the meantime, I will see for myself the changes at Yosemite National Park.

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