Yosemite hotels, facilities changing names due to trademark dispute

Thursday, January 14, 2016
In this Oct. 17, 2013 file photo, visitors at Tunnel View enjoy the views of Yosemite National Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)
In this Oct. 17, 2013 file photo, visitors at Tunnel View enjoy the views of Yosemite National Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)

FRESNO, Calif. -- The names of iconic hotels and other facilities in the world-famous Yosemite National Park will soon change in an ongoing battle over who owns the intellectual property, park officials said Thursday.

The famed Ahwahnee Hotel will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

The move comes in an ongoing dispute with Delaware North, the company that lost a $2 billion bid - the National Park Services largest single contract - to run Yosemite's hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities.

Delaware North demands to be paid $51 million for the names and other intellectual property, and the New York-based firm filed a lawsuit last year, saying it paid for the intellectual property when it took over the park concessions in 1993.

Park officials are making the name changes to avoid any disruptions during the transition to a new concessionaire on March 1, when the name changes go into effect, Gediman said. He said the park service is fighting for the rights to the original names.

"We're clearly in disagreement with Delaware North," he said. "We're taking this action to ensure the seamless transition."

The Yosemite Lodge at the Falls will turn into Yosemite Valley Lodge; Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge; and Badger Pass Ski Area will be called Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.

Yosemite National Park - another name which is also claimed by Delaware North and remains in dispute - will stay put, Gediman said.

National Park Service says the names and other intellectual property are worth about $3.5 million, according to the government's response to a lawsuit that Delaware North filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Lisa Cesaro, a spokeswoman for Delaware North Subsidiary called DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc. was not immediately available for comment.

Justice Department attorney John Robertson wrote in court papers that the company "wildly inflated" the value of the trademark names. He added that Delaware North has "breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing."

The trademark dispute at Yosemite has led to similar challenges at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and the Grand Canyon in Arizona and with other iconic pieces of Americana owned by the U.S. government, such the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Delaware North of New York has said that when it first won the concessions contract in 1993, the park service required the company to buy the former concessionaire's assets.

The park service belatedly learned of the trademark issue when it prepared to open bids for the concessionary operation. Yosemite awarded a 15-year contract to Aramark last year.

Delaware North also runs concessions at the Kennedy Space Center and has a trademark application for "Space Shuttle Atlantis," government court papers say.

Delaware North "apparently embarked on a business model where by it collects trademarks to the names of iconic property owned by the United States," Robertson wrote.