Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yosemite Names Settlement Stalls

An effort to settle a federal dispute between Yosemite National Park and its former concessions company, Delaware North, over trademarks has stalled before a costly and likely time-consuming court battle set next year. Despite mediation efforts between U.S. Justice Department attorneys and a government vendor, the sides reportedly resumed trial preparation. “'The parties do not believe that settlement is likely at this time,'” attorneys reported to the court, while adding that while they “'remain open to the possibility of mediation in this case...'" Myriad disagreements still separate the National Park Service from the concessions company. A new park concessions company takes over the lucrative contract this month. The departing company, a subsidiary of Delaware North, trademarked names of famous destinations like the Ahwahnee hotel (now known as Majestic Yosemite Hotel) and Curry Village cabins (now called Half Dome Village), during its tenure and now contends it must be paid for the intellectual property rights. Substantive differences over the lawsuit include the validity, dollar value and future of the new trademarks. The company’s sealed appraisal pegs the value of the trademarks at $44 million, while the government values the names at only $1.6 million. Of course, the U.S. Justice Department maintains a private company in attempting to monetize a property right it never possessed. Unless the judge summarily resolves the case, the core Yosemite trademark dispute won’t be decided until a U.S. Court of Federal Claims trial occurs in mid-to-late 2017, at the earliest. The parties previously advised Chief Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith that they were working on a framework for finding a settlement and apparently made substantial progress toward an agreement on a mediation plan, but did not explain exactly what caused them to step back from mediation. The government wants to allow the current Yosemite concessionaire, a subsidiary Aramark, to join the lawsuit as a third party. Delaware North opposes this move. Ultimately, the Justice Department argues, it could be the Aramark firm that’s liable for paying for any trademarks. See more here-- and the court's order sealing the valuation report for trade secret reasons here--