Thursday, January 14, 2016

News: National Park Service Renaming Iconic Yosemite Landmarks In Trademark Dispute

Half Dome From Curry Village - Yosemite National Park, California
The National Park Service is renaming several iconic landmarks in Yosemite National Park due to a trademark dispute. The names will be changed by March 1st of this year.

The Ahwahnee Hotel will be renamed The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Curry Village will be renamed Half Dome Village. The Yosemite Lodge At The Falls will be renamed Yosemite Valley Lodge. The Wawona Hotel will be renamed Big Trees Lodge. And Badger Pass Ski Area will be renamed Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.

The trademark dispute is between the National Park Service and a company called Delaware North, which has been contracted to run the hotels, restaurants and activities within the park since 1993. The company lost the most recent bid, and will have to turn over operations to a new company on March 1st.

Delaware North claims that the contract they signed in 1993 gives them the rights to the landmark names. In other words, Delaware North says they own the intellectual rights to the names Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, etc., and they want the Park Service to buy the rights back for over 50 million dollars. The National Park Service claims that the intellectual property is worth less than four million, and that Delaware North might not even own the rights to them at all.
The Ahwahnee - Yosemite National Park, California
Delaware North takes this a step further, however, by also claiming they own the name Yosemite National Park. Wow.

This will be settled in federal court, but it is too bad that the names must be changed in the meantime. Most of these are easily recognized "household names" that have been around for a long time. Once the names are changed they won't likely be changed back once this is all settled.

I think it is pretty darn despicable and extraordinarily greedy what Delaware North is doing. The national parks belong to the people. You and I own them. They are for us to enjoy. By claiming the rights to the landmark names, they are claiming that they own something that belongs to the public. And they are holding it hostage for our tax dollars. They are not just doing this to a large and distant organization, they are doing this to you and I. They are trying to rake us over the coals.

But also shame on the National Park Service for signing a contract that potentially gives away the rights to what belongs to the people. Who thought that this was a good idea? Obviously it was a really bad idea and I hope they learn a big lesson from this.

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