Key Harrington Barnes, PC

Business names are valuable intangible assets

Texas businesses may take interest in a dispute involving the names of entities associated with Yosemite National Park's name, as the legal resolution to the case may set a precedent affecting similar disputes across the nation. The park's present concesssionaire, Delaware North Companies, has reportedly advised park officials that it owns the names of several park locations, such as Curry Village. The park is disputing that claim. If the dispute ends up in court and the concessionaire were to prevail, park officials suggested the possibility of changing the park's iconic names.

A spokesperson for Delaware North Companies said the company was required to purchase all assets and liabilities in the park in 1993. Those assets include intangible assets, such as the rights to the names, the concessionaire argues. According to some authorities, the existence of intellectual property rights in concession contracts has long been recognized by the country's National Park Service. If these rights are held up in court, Delaware North may be deemed the rightful owner of the names of various entities related to Yosemite.

Other authorities involved in trademark law have offered opposing opinion. He said that owning the names of the businesses in question does not mean the company owns the names of the sites themselves. In the event that the dispute escalates and goes to court, pertinent facts of the case will include where and when the names emerged, as well as the history of ownership of the rights.

Some parties are suggesting this move by the company might be a tactic of unfair competition. The current contract is ending and is up for bid. This additional cost could be a means to block competition.

Source: ABC News, "Dispute Could Lead to Name Changes at Yosemite", January 02, 2015

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