Fight Over Names to Historic Sites at Yosemite Escalates

Agency asked trademark board to cancel trademarks obtained by company that previously ran park's hotel

By Associated Press

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – The National Park Service has opened up a new front in the fight over the names of historic hotels and other beloved landmarks at Yosemite National Park.

The agency has asked a federal trademark board to cancel trademarks obtained by the company that previously ran the park’s hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities, the Sacramento Bee reported Friday. Those trademarks include the name, “The Ahwahnee,” which was used on a luxurious stone and timber hotel with stunning views of the park’s fabled granite peaks, and “Curry Village,” a woodsy family-friendly lodging complex.

The park’s previous concession company, Delaware North, says the park service should have required the new concessionaire to purchase the names and other intellectual property, which Delaware North has valued at $51 million. It has filed a lawsuit in federal court. The park service, meanwhile, changed the names of The Ahwahnee, Curry Village and other sites while it fights for the rights to keep the original names.

Attorneys for the U.S. Department of the Interior told the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that the trademark registrations were causing “damage and injury” to the National Park Service, according to the Bee.

Attorneys for Delaware North said in a March 14 reply that the effort to cancel its trademarks was “a tactic” in the ongoing litigation. They asked the trademark board not to take any action until the lawsuit was resolved.

Delaware North recently lost a $2 billion bid — the National Park Service’s largest single contract — to run the park’s hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities when Yosemite awarded a 15-year contract to Aramark.

Delaware North has said when it won the contract in 1993, the park service required it to buy the former concessionaire’s assets.

The park service has valued the names and other intellectual property at about $3.5 million.

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