Since 2015, Delaware North, the longtime concessionaire at Yosemite National Park, has held the names of some of Yosemite’s most iconic properties hostage in a trademark dispute. The company, while it was the concessionaire, trademarked the Ahwahnee Hotel and Camp Curry, among other names, and when it lost the concession to rival Aramark, it demanded $50 million for the trademarks. The National Park Service and Aramark told Delaware North to pack sand, and since then they have been using awkward, generic stand-ins.
This week, the Park Service announced a settlement to the long-running disagreement: Aramark will give Delaware North $8.16 million over the next 12 years and NPS will kick in $3.84 million. A government press release stated, “Under Aramark’s Yosemite concession contract with the National Park Service, those trademarks and service marks will transfer at no cost to the National Park Service upon the expiration or termination of Aramark’s contract.” Still sounds like $12 million in ransom, though.
“I’ve said from literally day one that these names belong with these places, and ultimately belong to the American people,” Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman told the Los Angeles Times. “So to have this dispute resolved is huge.”
During the dustup, plastic tarps covered the old names. The Awhahnee became the Majestic Yosemite, Curry Village was Half Dome Village, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls was Yosemite Valley Lodge, the Wawona Hotel was Big Trees Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area was Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. Even slogans like “go climb a rock,” which was used by the Yosemite Mountaineering School, were disallowed.
Gediman said it will take months to resign and reprint brochures, menus, websites, and the like.
The biggest impact of the agreement is that it sets new policy for park trademarks: No longer can private companies hold them.
Top photo of Ahwahnee Hotel by John Ruddock/Unsplash