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Former Yosemite concessionnaire demands $44 million for right to use “its” trademarks — could contract drafter have planned for this?

“To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” That’s an old sales-training adage, attributed variously to Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill, and others. The adage might not have been considered by whoever drafted the contract between the National Park Service and the former con­ces­sion­aire for Yosemite National Park. As a New York Times article explained:

A bitter contract dispute has intruded into the Northern California wilderness, embroiling Yosemite, one of the country’s most be­loved national parks, in the question of who, if anyone, should own the trademark to the park’s name and attractions.

Delaware North, a company based in Buffalo, N.Y., has trade­marked [sic] the name “Yosemite National Park” and other famous brands affiliated with the park, such as The Ahwahnee Hotel and the Wawona Hotel.

The company is seeking $44 million for the next concessionaire to continue using them.

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“Obviously at some point down the road, when and if the gov­ern­ment prevails in the litigation, we certainly want to retain the ori­gin­al names,” said Scott Gediman, the spokesman for Yosemite National Park. “We feel strongly that the names belong to the American people.”

Thomas Fuller, Bitter Contract Dispute Extends to Who Owns Yosem­i­te Names, New York Times, page A-16, March 2, 2016 (extra paragraphing added).

Drafting lesson: Every relationship will end someday; contract drafters should therefore give some thought to what their clients would want to have happen when that day arrives.

Here, the National Park Service might have contemplated whether a new con­ces­sion­aire would be able to continue using the old con­ces­sion­aire’s trademarks.

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