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A file photo of the former Ahwahnee Hotel, one of the properties involved in today's (July 15) historic name lawsuit settlement.

Yosemite National Park To Change Historic Names

YOSEMITE — Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher announced today that the names of several buildings and facilities within the park will be renamed to eliminate potential trademark infringement issues with the current concessioner of Yosemite, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (DNCY), a subsidiary of the Delaware North Companies.

The name changes will impact several iconic buildings and landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In July 2014, a prospectus document was released, announcing that the concessioner contract was available. The offers were reviewed and the National Park Service selected Yosemite Hospitality LLC, a subsidiary of Aramark, to be the new primary concessioner in Yosemite National Park, replacing DNCY.

The concessioner provides lodging, retail, recreational services, and food to over four million annual visitors to Yosemite.

Because the current concessioner, DNCY, claimed ownership and the right to payment for tradenames, trademarks, and other intellectual property that it argues is worth over $50 million, the National Park Service included the option to change the names of these sites as part of the prospectus.

“While it is unfortunate that we must take this action, changing the names of these facilities will help us provide seamless service to the American public during the transition to the new concessioner,” says Neubacher. “Yosemite National Park belongs to the American people. This action will not affect the historic status of the facilities, as they are still important cultural icons to the National Park Service and the public. Our stewardship of these properties is unwavering.”

Without prior National Park Service concurrence, DNCY or its predecessor had previously trademarked or service-marked several nationally significant properties in the park including The Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass, Curry Village, Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Lodge, say park officials. DNCY also trademarked the phrase “Yosemite National Park.”

The National Park Service is currently in litigation in part over these trademarks, service-marks, and other intellectual property.

The new names were chosen in order to minimize the impact on visitors and include:

● Yosemite Lodge at the Falls to become: Yosemite Valley Lodge

● The Ahwahnee to become: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel

● Curry Village to become: Half Dome Village

● Wawona Hotel to become: Big Trees Lodge

● Badger Pass Ski Area to become: Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

Yosemite spokesperson Ranger Scott Gediman told ABC30 this evening that the Park hopes the name changes are only temporary, and that they chose this action in order to avoid legal difficulties and provide for a smooth transition as the new concessionaire takes over on March 1.

“We haven’t done this willingly in any way, shape or form,” says Gediman. “We hope people all over the world will understand that we felt this was a move we needed to make.”

He says the Park believes the names “belong with the structures, and ultimately belong to the American people, and that in the contract transition Delaware North does not have a valid right to claim any sort of financial compensation for the names associated with these historic structures.”

Yosemite National Park celebrated its 125th Anniversary last year. The park welcomes over four million visitors from all over the world each year and serves as a strong economic engine for the region and local communities.

Yosemite National Park generates $535 million in economic benefit to the local region and directly supports 6,261 jobs. The park is home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, and iconic rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan. The park also features approximately 90 different species of mammals and over 1500 species of flowering plants.

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