For more than two decades, our family-owned company was proud to work with the National Park Service in stewardship of Yosemite National Park, which is certainly among the most iconic and treasured of our federal lands. While we like to think our family of companies provides exemplary service to hundreds of venues, we admit Yosemite has long held a special place in our hearts.
So we have been saddened and disappointed to find ourselves in a very public dispute with the National Park Service, which has changed the names of cultural landmarks at Yosemite such as Curry Village and The Ahwahnee. We were also shocked they did this despite our offer to allow continued use of the names until the courts can sort out what amounts to a basic contract dispute. (See the full Jan. 2 offer letter at ParkTrademarks.com.)
Why should a private company like DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite own the names for some of America’s greatest cultural assets? It is a question we pondered back in 1993 when the National Park Service required us to spend what would be $115 million in today’s dollars to acquire all assets, both tangible and intangible (including intellectual property), and assume almost $40 million in liabilities from the prior concessionaire at Yosemite. But those were the rules and we played by them. Our contract specified that should the government ever decide to change concessionaires we must sell, and the new company, must purchase, those assets for fair value.
Fair is Fair:
All we have been seeking is for the National Park Service to honor our contract and require the new concessionaire, Aramark, to purchase our assets, just as we were required to purchase them before from the Curry Company. We never demanded that the names be changed. Why should they be? The courts will decide the purchase issue regardless.
Yosemite’s Heritage at Risk:
Why should you care? These sites and their history are our national heritage. These are more than trademarks and brand names, and that is why the Park Service required us to sell them back to the next company chosen to provide services.
We continue to offer the National Park Service free use of the Yosemite names and will work for a quick resolution to our contract dispute. We believe we have charted a fair path forward by allowing continued use of the historic names that honor both Native Americans and families that created Yosemite, while the courts decide who is right about the contract. The National Park Service has every opportunity to do the right thing – Restore the Names!