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This issue’s cover story, “American Beauty,” is about the centennial of our national parks. The establishment of the National Park Service (NPS) is widely considered one of the most successful public initiatives in our history, but unfortunately, we recently got a glimpse of the damage that can be done by a company looking to cash in on our natural resources. Delaware North Companies’ lawsuit over trademarks related to Yosemite National Park was the reason the NPS recently changed the name of Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and Curry Village to Half Dome Village. In fact, the lawsuit claims trademark ownership over the name Yosemite itself.
Delaware North operated the hotels and concessions at Yosemite for decades but lost the contract to Aramark for a 15-year term starting this month. Instead of thanking the NPS for the honor of being allowed to guard this national treasure, lawyers for Delaware North seem to be attempting one last money grab before they hand over the keys. You would think that an operator that bills itself as “one of the most admired family-owned hospitality companies in the world,” according to its website, would care more about one of the most admired family travel destinations in the world. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“We’re not threatening to keep the names,” said Dan Jensen, a longtime Yosemite park executive who is now a consultant for Delaware North, in a Los Angeles Times column. “But we are entitled to fair value.”
Entitled? I think many of us would agree that the only thing they are entitled to is a swift kick in the pants on the way out the door.
Certainly, some of this mess is due to mistakes made by the NPS and U.S.
Patent & Trademark Office, but one of the best ways we can protect these areas is by encouraging clients to visit them. Throughout 2016, we will be highlighting a few of our favorite national parks on TravelAgeWest.com as part of an ongoing series. The more clients who experience these natural wonders, the greater the appreciation for how vital it is to protect them.