A Three-Year Legal Dispute Led to Some Promotional Products and Branding Weirdness for Yosemite National Park
It can be difficult to form a cohesive and consistent marketing campaign when you don't even know what name your client is going by. Let's say a client used to be known as the Ahwahnee Hotel, but then for a bit was legally obligated to change its name. It still wanted to buy promotional products with the original name, but signage with the new name. Got a headache yet?
This was the problem for multiple landmarks within Yosemite National Park. The park was part of a dispute dating back to 2016, when it changed the names of multiple landmarks after its former concessionaire, Delaware North, filed a lawsuit. Delaware North's lawsuit claimed that it, not the park, owned the trademarks to the names.
So, for a couple of years while the legal process played out, the park had to change the names of a few of its facilities:
- The Ahwahnee Hotel became the Majestic Yosemite Hotel
- Curry Village became Half Dome Village
- The Wawona Hotel became Big Trees Lodge (very creative)
- Badger Pass became Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (also very creative)
For frequent visitors and even the business owners, this change was simply temporary, per KQED. While the new areas and businesses got signage to reflect the name changes, places like hotels and restaurants still ordered napkins and other branded items using the original names.
— Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) July 15, 2019
Now, those items that always reflected the original names are correct again, but the park is left with weirdly outdated signage. The inconsistencies during the name change meant that at least one would be wrong when the lawsuit was settled.
"We felt strongly about restoring the names," Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman told KQED. "People feel strongly about places like Curry Village, the Ahwahnee Hotel, places families have been coming for generations."
As a result of the settlement, Aramark, the new contracted concessionaire, now owns the names and logos for the duration of its contract ending in 2031. At that point, the names and logos will go back to government ownership.
The incorrect signage has already been switched back to normal, which wasn't too difficult, as it seems the park knew things would end in its favor and only ordered temporary signage that could be easily removed after the lawsuit.
"We're just really excited," Gediman said. "What's old is new again."
It's more like "what was always correct is correct again after a weird period of spending precious funding on temporary signage and promotional products for names that would inevitably change back to their original titles to satiate bitter former business partners." But, you know, all's well that end's well.