Beloved Yosemite landmarks' original names restored after trademark dispute

Vivian Ho in San Francisco
Photograph: John Walker/Associated Press

Some of Yosemite’s most well-known and beloved attractions will get their original names back, following a settlement in an intellectual property dispute that briefly changed the monikers of the national park’s hotels and landmarks.

The name change came about in a legal battle with Delaware North, a company that lost a $2bn bid to run concessions for the California park’s hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities it had operated since 1993. After Yosemite awarded a contract to Aramark, the park service learned that Delaware North had applied for trademarks for the names when it prepared to open bids.

In 2016, to avoid disruptions to visitors during the concessionaire changeover, the park pre-emptively changed the names of the Ahwahnee and Wawona hotels.

For more than three years, the Ahwahnee was the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Curry Village was Half Dome Village. The Wawona Hotel was Big Trees Lodge and Badger Pass was Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.

The name change did not sit well with visitors who had frequented the breathtaking landscapes in the park for generations, and the park service vowed to keep fighting for the original names.

The National Park Service announced on Monday that it had reached a settlement with Delaware North that “involves the transfer of trademarks and service marks at issue in the lawsuit from Delaware North to Aramark”. Under the park’s contract with Aramark, those trademarks and service marks will transfer back at no cost to the National Park Service at the end of Aramark’s contract.

As part of the settlement, Aramark will pay $8.16m and the US government will pay $3.84m to Delaware North for the names, logos and branded content, a Yosemite National Park spokesman, Scott Gediman, told the Los Angeles Times.

“I’ve said from literally Day One that these names belong with these places, and ultimately belong to the American people,” Gediman told the Times. “So to have this dispute resolved is huge.”

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