Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Trademark Parking

Private trademarks involving public parks might seem an odd juxtaposition.  However, this phenomenon may not be as rare as one might suppose.  For instance, Donald J. Trump has apparently registered federal trademark rights in "Central Park".  Now a trademark dispute has erupted over the names of several famous hotels located inside Yosemite National Park.  As a consequence, these iconic hotels may soon have new monikers.  For example, the Ahwahnee Hotel may transform into the much more prosaic "Majestic Yosemite Hotel".  What's next?  Perhaps Yosemite itself could be renamed "A Few Hours East of San Francisco National Park"?  Changing such famous names is bound to cause controversy, as NPR discussed on January 19, 2016.

Detaching trademarks from these famous hotels would certainly cause consumer confusion, not to mention consumer disillusionment.  On the other hand, since a new company would be managing the hotels, there could also be consumer confusion as to the source of hotel management if the names were to remain the same.  Negotiations are most likely proceeding between the departing manager of the hotels, Delaware North, and incoming managers, Aramark, because, with the hotels detached from their trademarked names, the value of the trademarks to anyone is likely to decay rapidly.

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