SAN FRANCISCO – The prices of Yosemite National Park souvenirs have been slashed in half, and road signs directing visitors to iconic attractions have been switched.
Among the changes, the historic Ahwahnee Hotel became the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and Curry Village campground was renamed Half Dome Village. Badger Pass Ski Resort became Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.
The changes took place at midnight Monday amid a bitter legal dispute between government officials and Delaware North, which operated many of the popular attractions from 1993 until Monday when competitor Aramark took over.
As part of the vendor change, the National Park Service is required to pay Delaware North for the value of many of Yosemite’s trademarked names for sites that the company managed and maintained.
Delaware North sued the Park Service after the two sides couldn’t agree on the trademarks’ value.
Court filings show the Park Service valuing the trademarks at $3.5 million while Delaware North puts their worth at $51 million.
The two sides say they remain far apart in negotiations. So the Park Service said it was compelled to change the names.
Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman said temporary signs were used in the hope that a settlement will be reached.
Delaware North spokesman Glen White said Park Service officials turned down the company’s offer to let the park keep using the trademark names until the legal dispute was resolved.
Gediman, however, said agreeing to the offer would acknowledge that Delaware North owns the names.
Mark Bartholomew, a University at Buffalo law professor who teaches trademark law, says Delaware North might want to preserve the value of the names that will lose value if no longer used.
“I think all sides will ultimately come to an agreement after some more posturing,” Bartholomew said.
Meanwhile, a historic sign welcoming visitors to the Ahwahnee Hotel was stolen over the weekend, Gediman said.
“It’s part of the park’s historic fabric,” Gediman said. “And we are taking this seriously.”
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