Courts & Crime

Another tangle confronts judge in Yosemite National Park trademarked names fight

The historic Ahwahnee Hotel has been renamed, at least temporarily, as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel while a trademark dispute gets sorted out.
The historic Ahwahnee Hotel has been renamed, at least temporarily, as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel while a trademark dispute gets sorted out. Fresno Bee

A legal battle over trademarked names at Yosemite National Park is now trickier than ever.

In the latest twist, lawyers are fighting over whether the park’s new concession company should be formally added to the case. The Justice Department, representing the National Park Service, says yes. Delaware North, the former concession company, says no in the latest legal filing.

“If it had a sufficient interest in this action, it could have attempted to intervene early on,” Delaware North’s attorneys stated in a Sept. 23 filing. “That it has not done so is one more indication that the government and Aramark are more interested in delaying this action than in bringing it to a just, speedy and inexpensive determination.”

The Philadelphia-based Aramark is the corporate parent of Yosemite Hospitality LLC, which took over Yosemite’s lucrative, 15-year concession contract this year. The Buffalo-based Delaware North is the corporate parent of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., which previously held the contract since 1993.

Aramark has been running the concession at Yosemite for the past six months without using the disputed trademarks. Aramark can thus provide evidence of the asserted marks’ effect on the operation of the concession, which would affect the fair value of the property in dispute.

Justice Department legal filing.

After losing the contract to its rival, Delaware North sued the government last year in U.S. Court of Federal Claims, claiming it was owed money for its intellectual property investments at Yosemite. These include the historic Ahwahnee hotel, Curry Village and Badger Pass, names for which the company holds trademarks.

After initially reporting some negotiating progress, attorneys earlier this year returned to trial preparations. As part of the occasionally combative maneuvering, the Justice Department on Sept. 6 proposed that Aramark join the case in which the government is currently the defendant.

“Proceeding without Aramark risks the possibility of inconsistent results,” the Justice Department stated, adding that “if Aramark is ultimately forced to purchase the property at issue here, it may attempt to challenge both its purchase obligation and the property’s valuation in a subsequent suit.”

Crowds are flocking to Yosemite this summer. See how to beat them.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153, @MichaelDoyle10

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