Yosemite’s historic names restored in trademark settlement

Yosemite National Park in the heart of Northern California’s Sierra Mountains is one of the best national parks in the country. It has a long heritage. In fact, naturalist John Muir worked to preserve the land as one of the first national parks.

So, when using the historic names for the famous Ahwahnee Hotel and the 1880s-era Curry Village cabins became the basis for a trademark dispute in 2015, many longtime Yosemite fans were not pleased. On July 15, the U.S. National Park Service settled the resulting lawsuit for $12 million. As a result, Yosemite can use these site’s historic names again.

 

Delaware North Companies Inc., Yosemite’s prior facilities director, will receive $8.16 million from Aramark, Yosemite’s current concessions operator, and $3.84 million from the U.S. government in the settlement. The trademark dispute began when Delaware North lost the contract to operate Yosemite’s facilities. The company sued, citing it paid a prior concessionaire for intellectual property rights for the Ahwahnee and Curry Village names, as well as the Wawona Hotel name and more.

While the trademark dispute lingered on, these historic sites went by alternate names and temporary signs covered their historic signage. With the settlement, the temporary signage has come down. Also, the park service can promote these features with the names so many Californians and longtime U.S. National Park lovers know well.

At the end of Aramark’s contract in 2031, the rights to using the historic site names will transfer to the government. Also, the suit prompted the National Park Service to structure newer contracts to specify that private companies can’t own names or trademarks tied to park attractions. So not only will the Ahwahnee’s name always be protected, but so will other historic park names, such as the Grand Canyon’s Kachina Lodge.