Thursday, January 21, 2016

Trademark Troll Company Trying To Take Yosemite Away From Us

A trademark troll that used to run concessions at Yosemite
National Park is threatening to not allow anybody to
use the names of iconic buildings and features at the park
unless the U.S. government and taxpayers cave
in to its extortion demands. They might get away with it. 
An outfit called DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite not long ago lost a contract to have concessions that ran various businesses around Yosemite National Park.

For one reason or another, they lost the contract to do that.

Now, they're demanding the National Park Serve change the names of iconic buildings and locations around and in Yosemite that have had their names for decades.

They're arguing trademark protection.

Incredibly, the National Parks Service is caving to these demands, I guess because they don't want to pay lawyers' fees to defend against this outrage.  I get the idea of not wasting taxpayer money, but do we really want to cave to trademark trolls?

These are publicly owned landmarks that they're changing the names of. In other words, you, me, and every other American owns this stuff.  But, a private company is forcing the change of fun and especially profit.

Yosemite landmarks like the Ahwahnee Hotel, the Yosemite Lodge, the Wawoman Hotel, Curry Village and Badger Pass ski area will have to change their names, signs maps and guidebooks to satisfy the morons at DNC.

It gets worse. DNC, a division of Delaware North also claims it holds the trademark for any merchandise and it alone can sell things like Yosemite shirts, mugs and whatnot, says BoingBoing, using Outside Magazine as a source

Says BoingBoing, via Outside:

"DNC refuses to hand over those trademarks unless the incoming concessionaire buys it out, setting in motion a chain reaction that will presumably endure until the end of the USA itself in which the sums that concessionaires bid to profit from public property are reduced by the expected dead-weight losses to license trademarks that should never have been granted in the first place.

DNC also registered trademarks for other U.S. public property, including the Space Shuttle Atlantis."

Makes you wonder if the very name of Yosemite National Park will go away.

Judging from what's going on, that doesn't seem so far-fetched now, because it does appear to be unclear how far DNC will go to make its private profit from a name all of us as taxpayers, should rightly own.

Says Outside, quoting Yosemite (for now!) National Park Spokesman Scott Gediman:

"The outgoing company also trademarked 'Yosemite National Park' for merchandising purposes, said Gediman. Will you be able to buy a Yosemite t-shirt at the gift shop come March 1? 'That's something that remains to be determined,' Gediman said."

What about the fact that, as I noted, the public owns this park, despite DNC's trademarking spree.

Outside magazine again:

"Gediman added, 'We feel very strongly that these historic names are associated with the buildings and belong to the American people.' As for the value DNC has attached to them, 'We strongly disagree with the numbers.'"

From what I see, DNC is a classic trademark troll, which is a variation of the always hated patent troll. 

Patent trolls try to extort money from businesses by claiming patents on commonly used equipment these businesses have in their offices and factories. These businesses find it less expensive to just pay patent troll extortion demands than fighting them with expensive lawyers in an iffy judicial process.

Trademark trolls basically do the same thing with objects and brands they don't really own. All for fun and profit, you understand. Especially profit.

I'm all for trademarking original ideas, businesses, merchandise and that type of thing, but DNC's trademark efforts are a great example of how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is being abused.

According to Outside, government attorneys, and basically anybody watching the case, thinks this is just the way DNC's does "business," to make any money they can, however they can. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seems to have no teeth, or no decent regulations on trademarks and patents.

Editorialized BoingBoing in a post I heartily agree with:

"It's evidence of the dysfunction of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, which should be heartily embarrassed by this, and the cult of fiduciary duty, which holds that companies should do anything they can to earn a profit for their shareholders, no matter how odius and unethical."

That "fiduciary duty" to me is a part of a larger American shortcoming these days. Everybody yells about their rights, but ignore the responsibilities and ethics that accompany those rights.

Yes, we have the right to make a profit, to have successful businesses. But what gives anybody the right to run roughshod over everything and everyone else, in the name of greed.

Right, Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli?

Obviously, I hope DNC somehow loses out, or gets its comeuppance like Shkreli did.

But I'm not optimistic.

Makes me wonder if every name, everything we do, will have some corporate for-profit stamp on it.

That would be a shame.

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