SACRAMENTO – A company involved with a copyright dispute case involving Yosemite National Park welcomes a potential new law designed to prevent the dispute, but is still more focused on the process of its case.
"Unfortunately, the new law does not apply to our contract dispute in which the National Park Service has refused to require Aramark to pay us fair value for the trademarks that we were required to purchase," Glen White, senior manager of corporate communications for Delaware North, told the Northern California Record.
The bill the California Senate is working on, approved unanimously last week and sent back to the Assembly, would prohibit trademark claims at state parks. The bill was prompted by a dispute between Delaware North, the company that formerly ran the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, and the park's management. The company lost its $2 billion contract, as the park decided to change to Aramark for the hotel's management. Delaware North feels that since they were required to make payments for use of certain trademarks associated with the park, as well as paying for several new ones, they should be compensated to release those trademarks for use by Aramark.
There seems to be a general agreement on that, but a rather vast difference in the valuation of those trademarks. Park officials have stated that the value of those trademarks is $3.5 million. Delaware North places their value quite a bit higher than that, placing their value at approximately $51 million.
"DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc. (DNCY), a subsidiary of Delaware North, asserted in its breach-of- contract lawsuit that the appraised value of the intellectual property portfolio it used in its operations at Yosemite is no less than $44 million," White said. "DNCY had retained CONSOR, a reputable, independent third-party, to appraise its intellectual property. Obtaining an independent appraisal is a common-sense approach to valuation of property and is commonly used in the concessions world when an incoming concessioner is obligated to purchase the property of the outgoing concessioner."
White went on to say that Delaware North has not been presented with the basis of the park's $3.5 million valuation of the trademarks, but feel it is likely basing it on the mindset that visitors to the park would value the experience the same even if the hospitality options inside the park were poor or did not exist. He acknowledges people are drawn to the park by its natural features, but contends that many chose to stay at the park's hotel once seeing its amenities as opposed to the NPS campgrounds or outside the park.
White says that Delaware North has offered to allow the National Park Service to use the trademarks involved in the case free of charge while the case was ongoing. Nonetheless, NPS has temporarily changed the name of the hotel to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, with the sense being that they'd still prefer it to be the Ahwahnee Hotel once the dispute is settled.
If the new bill passes, this will be the last dispute of this case for Yosemite. While that is a positive for the park, White simply regrets this law did not exist before it signed its contract in the first place.
"Delaware North has been supportive of this new law since the bill was introduced because we wholeheartedly agree that no company should be forced to purchase trademarks and protect intellectual property associated with public parks in order to serve as a concessionaire," White said. "That was exactly what happened when the National Park Service in our 1993 contract required our subsidiary to purchase Yosemite trademarks and other intellectual property and likewise required any subsequent new concessionaire to purchase the trademarks at fair value from us."