Yosemite to Change Historic Names in Trademark Dispute

Park visitors sit outside the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, now to be called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.

Park visitors sit outside the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, now to be called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The names of iconic hotels and other landmarks in Yosemite National Park will soon change in an ongoing battle over who owns the intellectual property, park officials said Thursday.

The luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

The move comes in an ongoing dispute with Delaware North, the company that recently lost a $2 billion bid — the National Park Service’s largest single contract — to run Yosemite’s hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities.

Delaware North demands to be paid $51 million for the names and other intellectual property. The New York-based firm filed a lawsuit last year, saying that when it won the contract in 1993, the park service required the company to buy the former concessionaire’s assets.

Park officials are making the name changes to avoid any disruptions to visitors with hotel reservations during the transition to a new concessionaire on March 1, Gediman said. He said the park service is fighting for the rights to the original names.

“We’re clearly in disagreement with Delaware North,” he said. “We’re taking this action to ensure the seamless transition.”

Yosemite National Park outlined the five name changes in a press release:

● Yosemite Lodge at the Falls to become: Yosemite Valley Lodge
● The Ahwahnee to become: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
● Curry Village to become: Half Dome Village
● Wawona Hotel to become: Big Trees Lodge
● Badger Pass Ski Area to become: Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

Yosemite National Park — another name which is also claimed by Delaware North and remains in dispute — will stay put, Gediman said.

Tent cabins at Yosemite's Curry Village, now to be called Half Dome Village.
Tent cabins at Yosemite’s Curry Village, now to be called Half Dome Village. (pshab/Flickr)

The National Park Service says the names and other intellectual property are worth about $3.5 million, according to the government’s response to a lawsuit that Delaware North filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc., a subsidiary of Delaware North, said in a written statement that it was “shocked and disappointed” that the park service is using the beloved names as a “bargaining chip.”

The company defended its demands, saying that it hopes Yosemite and the new concessionaire decide not to change the names. “All we want in this is fair and just treatment,” the company said.

Justice Department attorney John Robertson wrote in court papers that the company “wildly inflated” the value of the trademark names. He added that Delaware North has “breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.”

The trademark dispute at Yosemite is similar to disputes at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and with other iconic pieces of Americana owned by the U.S. government.

The park service belatedly learned of the trademark issue when it prepared to open bids for the concessionary operation. Yosemite awarded a 15-year contract to Aramark last year.

Delaware North also runs concessions at the Kennedy Space Center and has a trademark application for “Space Shuttle Atlantis,” government court papers say.

Delaware North “apparently embarked on a business model whereby it collects trademarks to the names of iconic property owned by the United States,” Robertson wrote.

The name changes don’t sit well with park admirers like John Lenau, an amateur historian and president of the Conference of California Historical Societies.

Now 76, he’s visited Yosemite since childhood and says when somebody mentions Curry Village he can picture it in his head. That will be lost with the change, he said.

He also worries about stripping away the Native American heritage by turning the Ahwahnee to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and the Wawona Hotel to Big Trees Lodge.

“I don’t see the advantage of doing that,” Lenau said, speaking for himself rather than the society. “I’m just a little bit against changing something that has been around for so many years.”

Yosemite to Change Historic Names in Trademark Dispute 15 January,2016David Marks

  • Lynn Garbe

    These name changes are ridiculous. Was it even a question that the name of Yosemite National Park might be changed also! I, for one will always call them by the names I have come to love. So appropriately and lovingly named (some of them) after Indians who first settled the Valley. Have they picked on Nevada and Vernal Falls yet?

  • Roy Jordan

    Who allowed DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc to register the original trademark names for National Park Land property they never had possession of???

    • Bear

      The greedy NPS. It more than likely happened during the time that the NPS needed to be self sufficient, so they sold the rights to get money. Now they’re back peddling

      • y_p_w

        NPS claims they didn’t know of the trademark registration.

        In any case Delaware North claims that they had these trademarks whether or not they were registered. I don’t really buy it since the buildings transferred to the National Park Service before Delaware North took over operations.

    • y_p_w

      I’ve looked up some of the names. The ones for “The Ahwahnee”, “Bracebridge Dinner”, and “Go Climb a Rock” were trademarked by the Yosemite Park and Curry Company when they were under MCA ownership. That was a bit different situation since they had a possessory interest in the buildings, and the ownership of the buildings transferred to the National Park Service before Delaware North took over.

      The rest were trademarked in 2002, and the National Park Service claims they were never informed of it. NPS stopped Xanterra from continuing their attempt to register Grand Canyon NP name trademarks for places like Phantom Ranch, Hermits’ Rest, and the El Tovar Hotel.

  • Miss Libby Love

    Justice Department attorney John Robertson added that ” Delaware North has “breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.” I think the entire breach by the concessionaire has warranted a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against them over “brand name theft” and failure to perform their duties in good faith, the position for which they were hired. This entire matter is sickening. I will never stay there again, at my dear Ahwahnee Hotel. GREEDY is a word that comes to mind in entire debacle.

    • Bear

      The crime is on the NPS dealings. They’re the ones who are wrong. They need to pay for the mess they got themselves into. Protest them.

      • Ginny Egan Ranella

        Bear,
        It sounds like you are affiliated with Delaware North due to your defensive stance of their actions. Perhaps the NPS of Yosemite ought to open a huge lawsuit against Delaware North for breach of contractual agreements to provide “Clean, non dangerous facilities to the visitors of the park.” Shall we begin counting the recent deaths related to infestation of infectious rodent droppings found in the tent cabins? Six deaths and how many contracted the disease that survived?

    • y_p_w

      Delaware North is getting out of there

      If you read the NPS releases, it looks like they’re going to at least attempt to get many of these trademark registrations rescinded. However, it looks like “The Ahwahnee” was registered in 1988 when Yosemite Park and Curry Company actually owned the building. The rest are a little bit muddied.

  • Dauger

    Delaware North and any of its subsidiaries should be permanently barred from holding government contracts, as should any other company that hires or places on their board any current DN executive or board member.

    • writerink

      Bingo. That is the answer that would make them change. How do we get a Congressional member to introduce a bill to push that new law through? Also Delaware North owns concessions many places. Check their site. For instance Qualcomm and Petco Park in San Diego (Chargers and Padres fans, let those burgers and hot dogs pile up unsold, and tell ’em why). Also LAX and many other places around the world. BOYCOTT THEM ALL.

  • Cody mattson

    I wish I won the power ball so I could pay it for them and give Yosemite back their names. This makes me sick. Greed is disgusting.

  • Preston Sullivan

    I have two solutions, DNC should sell the rights for 1 dollar, claim a business loss with the proviso that the names are never up for grabs again. Solution 2, all names would be changed a la Prince- The hotel formerly known as the Ahwahnee, The site formerly known as Badger Pass, The site formerly known as El Capitan etc, etc.

    • ShariW3

      Mmuuhaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaa!

  • Bob Roney

    The Ahwahnee hotel shall be hence forth be known as Her Majesty the Hotel at the Cascades by the Arches Under the Dome™

  • Bob Roney

    The Ahwahnee hotel shall hence forth be known as “Her Majesty the Hotel at the Cascades by the Arches Under the Dome™”

  • LibsRLoons

    I have an idea for a renaming of the hotel – how about FCUK Delaware North Inn and Suites?

    How our government could be so stupid as to allow a private company to register these US property names as their own is beyond reason.

  • writerink

    The Native Americans should sue Delaware for stealing THEIR names.

  • 1lori_1

    I hope there is some public outcry over this. Never heard of anything so ridiculous. Signs of the twisted times!

    • Bear

      That’s because it is ridiculous and the NPS is the one at fault. The protest should be with the NPS. Do some research.

  • Stephanie Jogan

    I by no means like that we are forse to change our names in Yosimite names, but if it comes down to it and we really have to change the name I would think people in this area would be a lot happier if we stuck to the Native American names.

  • Combat Override

    Delaware North is going to lose this battle. I am surprised that the US Govt is willing to pay $3.5M for the names.

    • Ginny Egan Ranella

      They won’t pay! Guess what company is going to go under the IRS knife this year?

    • Bear

      The NPS is in the wrong, they sold the intangible assets a long time ago for $15 million, now they’re just trying to get him back cheap.

      • y_p_w

        Where’d you get that number? Delaware North paid $61 million back in 1993 for many assets including vehicles and furniture. There was no specific $15 million number.

  • Dave Henderson

    The cartoon you folks thought was cute, designed and posted to social media by your employee Mark Fiore is the reason I am going to launch a boycott campaign with my readership of over 4 million veterans recommending no donations be made to KQED until a retraction and repudiation of this humiliating piece is published.

    • Ginny Egan Ranella

      Hey Dave, get a grip on your self. Your threat to PBS appears all too similar to the actions of Delaware North which are, “Give us what we want because we’ve got you by the balls!” I don’t know how you tie into the Delaware Companies underhanded takeover of our National Parks unregistered Trade Mark names, but if the shoe fits then fuc—g wear it instead of promising to crush one of the few honest and good non profit organizations with it. Besides, the cartoon does capture the essence of this sad fiasco which we are becoming keenly aware of. Your extreme anger and plot to take your “pound of flesh” revenge reminds me of the death blow dealt out to the Paris cartoonists in the name of justice. Seriously, get your emotions under control.

    • Roy Jordan

      “Dave?, Dave’s not here!” (Cheech & Chong)
      Clarify how KQED News humiliates anyone by publishing: “Yosemite to Change Historic Names In Trademark Dispute”?

  • Ginny Egan Ranella

    I wonder if Delaware has given any thought toward their long term corporate gain beyond this attempt to extort federal funds by legally hijacking our National Parks Trademark names? Once the battle is over and done with who do they think would ever allow them on their grounds again. No matter how this ends, this Company has been issued its death blow. How dumb can Delawares CEOS be to have put this Company in a long term position as our Nation’s Public Enemy # 1?” They should know that our Goverment always wins when they play ball. It’s in your court Delaware.

    • Bear

      The NPS is in the wrong, they sold the rights to the intangible property a long time ago. Protest them for not allowing it to be passed on to the next contractors bid.

      • y_p_w

        NPS didn’t sell anything. It was supposedly transferred from concessionaire to future concessionaire. The previous concessionaire actually had a possessory interest in the buildings, but didn’t register most of the trademarks now claimed.

  • Bear

    First of all, the US Government doesn’t “Own” the land or the parks. They’ve been self appointed custodian since Roosevelt created them. “We the people”, “Own” the land and the parks. The NPS required the company to pay for the intangible property when it took over. So upon selling to the new contractors, they should be responsible to do the same. Personally I believe something shady is going on and it’s probably in the governments tree.

  • kfagan42

    McHalfDome

    • Liz Hart

      lol

  • Lare

    Offer DNC the same price they paid in 1997 for the intellectual property of the contract.

  • Lare

    Offer DNC the same price they paid in 1993 for the intellectual property of the contract. Please do not change these meaningful historical names.

    • y_p_w

      The problem is that they paid a flat rate back in 1993 and there was no breakdown of what. They’re claiming $44 million as an appraisal value. Part of it is supposedly $8 million as a “brand extension” – I guess for its value to market things outside of the park. Now that’s really weird.

  • Kevin Barry
    • Loud_Librarian

      Well not exactly “the scoop,” since it is a Press Release from Delaware North. It is informative to know their perspective, but it’s obviously only part of the story.

  • This is what happens when corporations are given free reign to do whatever it likes to the exclusion of everything else but for making money. Corporations are not people. Money is not free speech. #CitizensUnited

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