Somewhere along the line – when I was in high school and beyond my prime Looney Tunes watching years – someone gave the Rogers family a bunch of kids records. One that was played repeatedly Chez Rogers was about Yosemite Sam, the Looney Tunes character. Although the song was quite irritating, I actually considered it a blessed break from my sister Trish’s incessant playing of the Mary Poppins album. (I swear, all I need is for someone to queue up the first couple of notes of that one, and I can launch right in to a verbatim warble through the entire album.)
The loony Yosemite Sam tune began thus:
A holdup man named Yosemite Sam, robbed the Looney Tune’s train out of Boulder Dam
As it turned out, old Yosemite Sam wasn’t actually lookin’ to rob anyone. As he sang:
I don’t want your money. I don’t want your jewels. [Prounounced ‘jools’.]…I wanna ring-ring the bell on the choo-choo locomotive.
Well, there’s a latter-day Yosemite Sam, one Jeremy Jacobs, and, unlike Yosemite Sam, Jeremy Jacbos does want our money. That would be the tax payers’ money. Jeremy Jacobs thinks he’s entitled to it as the trademark holder of some of the buildings and sites at Yosemite National Park.
The name Jeremy Jacobs is probably better known in these here parts than in other places.
He is, after all, the owner of the Boston Bruins and TD Garden, which replaced the storied Boston GAH-din, and is where the Bruins and the Celtics play. (And where Bruce Springsteen will play on February 4th, Trish and I in attendance, her musical tastes having evolved from Mary Poppins and Looney Tunes. Trish was, in fact, an “early adopter” of The Boss, and was the person who turned me into a fan.)
Mostly when you hear Jacobs’ name hereabouts it’s as part of criticism of Bruins’ ownership, which has produced one – count ‘em one – measly Stanley Cup in the past 44 years. As much as anything, this is a hockey town, and fans of the Bruins are as vocal, crazed, and passionate a bunch as any sports fans anywhere. So there’s been plenty of pissing and moaning about him and his ownership, starting when he let Number 4 (Bobby Orr) skate away shortly after he bought the team. Reason enough around here to despise the guy, let alone that he’s made a grab for some names that nobody but we the people ought to own. (Another reason for the antipathy towards Jacobs is, I suspect, the fact that he lives in Buffalo, and doesn’t have any presence or much philanthropy here. “Our” other sports team owners – Pats, Celts, Red Sox - are mostly from around here and are very active and visible in the community. John Henry of the Red Sox might not hail from these parts, but he married a local woman and lives in Brookline. Jacobs hangs his hat in Buffalo.)
Jacobs’ company, Delaware North, is in the hospitality business, and for years their sub, DNC Parks, has owned the concessions at Yosemite National Park (as well as at other parks). Then they lost their Yosemite deal. And that, apparently, pissed them off. So, Delaware North:
…went to court seeking compensation for what it says is $51 million of intellectual property, including trademarks on everything from ski and golf areas to the Yosemite National Park name itself.
Government attorneys have valued the intellectual property at about $3.5 million, and called DNC Parks’ estimate “grossly exaggerated and improper.” (Source: Boston Globe)
While all this plays out, the National Park Service is changing the names of some of the Yosemite’s facilities “to avoid liability or the potential for closures as a result of the ongoing court battle.”
Some of the trademarks were inherited by Delaware when they took over the Yosemite contract in the 1990’s. Others they scooped up on the QT, without the Park Service noticing.
If I read the article correctly – and I didn’t spend a lot of time on textual exegesis – the ownership of the trademarks isn’t in dispute. What’s irking Delaware is that, when they assumed the contracts back in the day, they had to pay the prior concessionaire for them as part of their deal.
According to its lawsuit, DNC Parks was required to purchase the assets of its predecessor, Curry Co., when it won the Yosemite contract, and it says the National Park Service is similarly obligated to require Aramark to buy DNC’s assets, including trademarks, at fair market value.
The lawsuit said the park service awarded Aramark the new contract without the same requirement.
So Jacobs/Delaware is looking for redress from the government: pay up or Aramark doesn’t get to use their trademarks.
Some of those trademark names aren’t exactly household words. I suspect that anyone who’s been through Yosemite remembers seeing the Ahwahnee Hotel. I remember it from 40+ years back, and remember thinking that it was a cool place that I’d like to stay some day when I could afford to spend the night in a national park in something other than an L.L. Bean tent. But did I remember the hotel’s name? No.
But in late September – no doubt when they knew they’d lost the Yosemite contract, or knew they were in danger of doing so – Delaware applied to trademark the word “Yosemite.”
Talk about naked greed! Talk about something that Delaware has no business owning. What doesn’t Jeremy Jacobs get about this land is your land? It’s not as if they came up with the name. It should be there for all the people – including Looney Tunes. I don’t think the Yosemite trademark has been granted, but certainly hope it never is.
If Delaware needs the money that badly, they can sell the Bruins to someone who’s more serious about winning the Stanley Cup.