Yosemite National Park (the “Park”) is changing the names of several of its iconic buildings and landmarks, some of which are even on the National Register of Historic Places, due to trademark concerns after awarding a $2 billion federal contract to a new concessionaire.
In October 2015, The National Park Service signed a concessions contract with Yosemite Hospitality, LLC, a subsidiary of Aramark. The contract will go into effect on March 1, 2016, ending a 20+ year relationship between current concessionaire, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (DNCY), a subsidiary of Delaware North. The change in contract ignited a legal battle between the Park and DNCY, which argues that it owns the trademarks to several iconic names associated with the Park, including the phrase “Yosemite National Park” itself, and values these marks at over $50 million. The Park denies these claims and contends that the trademarks were done without approval of the National Park Services.
In an effort to avoid potential trademark infringement issues with DNCY, the Park indicates that it is planning to rename several of its properties by March 1. The new names of the Park properties include:
- The Ahwahnee will become The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
- Badger Pass Ski Area will become Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area
- Curry Village will become Half Dome Village
- Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge
- Yosemite Lodge will become Yosemite Valley Lodge
The Park does not plan to change the name, “Yosemite National Park,” in spite of a trademark registration for the name owned by DNCY.
DNCY argues that it had been required to purchase the assets related to the Park, including its trademarks and other intellectual property, from a previous concessionaire. According to DNCY, the 1993 purchase of these assets would equate to approximately $115 million today. They also explained that the National Park Services changed its mind on the issue of intellectual property during the bidding process for potential concessionaire, stating that they would be required to purchase DNCY’s intellectual property assets and then stating that they would not be required to do so.
DNCY believes that it should be afforded fair treatment and be awarded for the purchase of its intangible assets. Accordingly, DNCY went to court seeking compensation for what it values its intangible property (including intellectual property) at today, i.e., $51 million. Attorneys for the National Park Service believe that DNCY’s estimate is “grossly exaggerated and improper” and instead estimates the intangible property value at $3.5 million.
Despite public outcry over the proposed name changes, unless an agreement is reached between the Park and DNCY by March 1, visitors coming to watch the geysers better book their hotel accommodations at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel and try to avoid getting lost in the nearly 750,000 acre park looking for signs directing them to the nonexistent Ahwahnee Hotel.