Xanterra Parks & Resorts, a concessionaire that has operated in the Grand Canyon for more than a century, applied for a trademark on the names of about 20 popular Grand Canyon properties. If granted, Xanterra could charge any future park contractors for use of the names or walk away with them altogether.
The company applied for the trademark just before its contract to manage South Rim hotels, restaurants, and mule rides expired in December, according to the AP. Xanterra won a temporary contract and can bid on a new one later this year.
National Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson told the AP that he only knows of two national parks where companies have registered for trademarks for names: Yosemite and Hot Springs. “This is a new issue for us,” Olson said. The Park Service has yet to determine how it will respond with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It will, however, include language in future contracts that lays out how names and logos associated with the Grand Canyon can be used by concessionaires.
Xanterra operates Bright Angel Lodge, Phantom Ranch, and El Tovar, among others. Experts see the move as a way to stifle competition and earn money on name recognition of the properties. “They’re just playing a card,” Kristelia Garcia, associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School, told the AP.
If Xanterra is granted the trademark and chooses not to renew its contract at the Grand Canyon, it could charge future companies to use the iconic lodge names. Alternatively, new concessionaires could change the names of the hotels and not pay Xanterra. “If the next concessionaire decides, ‘I don’t want to pay that intellectual property,’ and they want a new name, that’s fine,” Derrick Crandall, National Park Hospitality Association counsel, told the AP. “It’s legitimate to say there’s some kind of payment due.”