The National Park Service recently filed a petition at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking to cancel the trademark registrations for five different marks which had been previously issued to the former concessioner at Yosemite National Park, or in the alternative, that the trademarks be transferred to NPS. The trademarks included Yosemite National Park, The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, Wawona and Badger Pass. The concessioner’s contract ended on March 1, 2016 and a new concessioner took over the operations.
NPS made three arguments in its petition. First, NPS claimed that the continuing use of these names by the former concessioner on products or with any services would lead the public to believe that the company selling the products was associated with NPS. Second, NPS claimed that it believed that the former concessioner had stopped selling any products with the trademarks on them after its contract expired, so therefore the concessioner had abandoned the trademarks and the trademarks should be cancelled. And third, NPS claimed that NPS owned the “Yosemite National Park” trademark and that the public recognized the Park as the source of “NPS’s goods and services.” Therefore, NPS claimed, the concessioner’s use of the trademarks diluted NPS’s use of the trademark.
In September 2015, the former concessioner had filed a lawsuit against NPS claiming that, under its concession contract with NPS, the succeeding concessioner was required to purchase the trademarks from it and that NPS had not ensured that purchase would occur. NPS claimed that the concessioner’s lawsuit was an example of NPS being injured by the trademark registrations.