Law May Nullify National Park Trademarks

Historic names could belong to feds

Jan 27, 2015
Outside Magazine

Xanterra has applied to trademark most businesses on the South Rim, including Phantom Ranch (pictured).    Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr

Attempts by concessionaires to trademark several iconic National Park property names could be stymied by a section of the U.S. Code. The issue was called into question this week when news emerged that Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates lodges at the Grand Canyon, had applied to trademark its properties there.

Section 302106 of bill HR 1068 gives the National Park Service the right to “retain the name historically associated with the building or structure” if the building is deemed a landmark or worthy of the National Register of Historic Places.

Xanterra isn’t the only concessionaire sizing up its National Park holdings. Last summer, Delaware North, a contractor in Yosemite, placed a $51 million valuation on intellectual property it held in Yosemite, including trademarks on the Ahwahnee Hotel and Curry Village, according to National Parks Traveler. But given that parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon have many sites and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places or as National Historic Landmarks, those trademarks could be rendered null and void.

Dan Jensen, president of Delaware North, told National Parks Traveler that he’d never heard of Section 302106, which was passed into law as part of HR 1068 in December. “I really don’t know what to make of it,” he said.

If trademarks were to be granted to Xanterra or another concessionaire, future park contractors that operated the hotels would have to pay whoever holds the rights to the iconic lodge names. The Park Service announced last week that it received at least two bids for the Yosemite contract and expects to name the winner this summer, according to National Parks Traveler.

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