SMRi on Latest Battle Over Sturgis Mark

March 11, 2013
Courtesy of Rise Above Consulting

UPDATE: Since posting this press release, the article title has been changed from “SMRi Wins Latest Battle Over Sturgis Mark.” In fact, the legal matter is still in dispute. The latest action by US District Magistrate Judge John Simko recommends rejecting motions from both the plaintiff (SMRi) and defendants. Simko advises a jury resolve the case, including whether fraud was committed obtaining the Sturgis trademark. Read more in Sturgis Trademark Battle Not Resolved.

Officials with the non-profit Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. announced today that they are pleased to have prevailed over every legal action thus far in their ongoing effort to protect the Sturgis trademarks against infringing users.

A recommendation recently passed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. Simko does not deny or even recommend denying the right for SMRi to continue to use the legal Sturgis trademarks it has have been entrusted to protect. This follows two other rulings in recent years that were in favor of SMRi, including a judgement against an entity that billed itself as the “Little Sturgis Rally.”

“Without the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, there could be no ‘Little Sturgis Rally.’ Without SMRi, organizers of that event would have profited from the work our local community members have done over decades, would have done so at no cost, and would have been under no obligation to make any contribution to the community of Sturgis and its people,” said SMRi board member Ross Lamphere.

In another case, just prior to the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a motion for injunctive relief was filed by Rushmore Photos and Gifts against SMRi that attempted to derail the group’s legal right to defend its federal trademarks. SMRI was successful in having that injunction denied. The legal system and local businesses have generally and repeatedly supported the idea of SMRi benefiting the local economy as a benevolent agency tasked with safeguarding the Sturgis® trademarks for the community and people of Sturgis.

“SMRi, through our volunteer board, is charged with promoting and protecting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, while providing a charitable return for the greater Sturgis area. Part of that responsibility is to protect the intellectual property of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. from unauthorized use, infringement and counterfeit goods and services,” said Dean Kinney, Chairman of the SMRi board.

SMRi has been tasked with protecting Rally-related trademarks for the greater good of the Sturgis community. If the trademarks are deemed to be in the public domain, royalties currently collected from the use will stop. The funds SMRi and the trademarks currently generate go to supporting the Rally and local entities such as the ones funded earlier this year by Sturgis Rally Charities. Over the last two years SMRi has donated over $100,000 to local charities and will continue it’s dedication to supporting the local community.

Longtime Black Hills-area business woman Karen Simmons-Parks, a volunteer board member of SMRi, said the group is committed to protecting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
“Motorcycle tourism in the Black Hills and the Sturgis brand are both at risk if we allow unauthorized use of these valuable marks. It is our responsibility as board members to protect those marks, which is typical of any mark. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and its worldwide notoriety, in large part, supports the local economy, and the Sturgis trademarks and brand are a significant part of that equation. It is obvious that the legal system continues to support SMRi’s legal right to protect the trademarks it owns, and we intend on continuing to do so for the good of the overall community.”

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