Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Intellectual Property

All brands and trademarks need to be protected and watched over. So, The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the most significant motorcycle event brand and two-wheel gathering in the world, is now defended by a new official non-profit organization formed on June 30, 2010.

The board in charge of the new organization to watch over the Sturgis intellectual property is comprised of community leaders and motorcycle industry professionals including Jerry Berkowitz, Jim Burgess, John Detrick, John Johnson, Susan Johnson, Dean Kinney, Karen Simmons, and Rod Woodruff. The creation of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. allows the the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to be consolidated for direction by a singular accomplished and committed board.

Board Vice-Chairman Jim Burgess commented “this event is important not just only to South Dakota, but to the entire motorcycling world. Our goal is to watch over this intellectual property for the good of the Sturgis community and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.” Michele Loobey-Gertsch, Executive Director of the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the Board of Directors, said “managing this important asset has been challenging for the Chamber of Commerce because we have so many traditional chamber-oriented responsibilities here in the Sturgis community. We are excited to see this new board with such expertise and energy tasked with caring for these important trademark properties.”

16 Responses to “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Intellectual Property”

  1. 1 Al Jones Jul 9th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    A noble idea, however trademark law and what can be protected and who can claim ownership is far more complicated than filing trademark applications with the US patent and Trademark Office. While I have not researched this, I suspect there is little or no protectable intellectual property associated with the rally. The board may be able to convince people they can control the IP, they may even get trademarks past the USPTO, however I highly doubt they would prevail in any court challenge.

  2. 2 Axel Jul 9th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Meaning they want to get money from T-shirts that say “Sturgis Bike Week” or whatever? Far as I know they already have the rights to “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally” and that’s all they have the right to have the rights to. (I crack myself up)
    It’s still the Black Hills Motor Classic to me anyway.

  3. 3 Lyle Jul 9th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I would think the term(s) were in the public domain for so long that they can’t be trademarked. But who knows, look at other names such as Indian, Fat Bob, Ape Hangers, HOG, etc….

  4. 4 Lance Dickwood Jul 9th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Real bikers don’t defend their shit in court . . .

  5. 5 Jeff Nicklus Jul 9th, 2010 at 4:49 pm


    This has all been tried before. First off it isn’t the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; it is the Black Hills Motor Classic. Now the Sturgis Rally Committee and the City of Sturgis will jump into the fray and the fight starts all over again. Isn’t greed a wonderful thing!

    Over & Out,


  6. 6 Dennis J Jul 9th, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Nothing like lawyers and greed to fuck up a good thing. this is the antithesis of what the biker lifestyle and the rally are all about. I bet these wonderful public servants don’t even ride.

  7. 7 gina woods Jul 9th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Ditto, Ditto & Ditto again!

  8. 8 cyclereckr Jul 10th, 2010 at 6:14 am

    “Public Servants” ? Mother Teresa was a servant, these folks are serving no one, maybe there selfs.

  9. 9 Buck Private Jul 10th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    There looks to be about 1 guy in that group that even owns a bike. Looks like GREED GRABBERS!
    Maybe they can confiscate fake t-shirts and ALL the money in that persons pockets with the NAZI badges they are all so proud about. Who is gonna police the Servants who pull all the money out of an illegal vendors pocket? They’re already drunk with power.

  10. 10 Martin Jul 10th, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Here we go again another fucking Myrtle beach……

  11. 11 Bob Jul 10th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Is Big Jim Red Cloud on the board? I’m sure they could use a man of his talents. And after all old Big Jim is from South Dakota.

  12. 12 jack mcintyre Jul 12th, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I agree with the above, public domain is impossible to contest, it will never happen. Greed is the thought here other than the protecting of logos & trademarked names / titles.

  13. 13 CoppellDarryl Jul 12th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Wow, cut them some slack folks.

    Myrtle Beach? Are you kidding me? Wasn’t the city council in Myrtle Beach trying to get the rally disbanded? Sturgis welcomes bikers, (and of course our dollars that it pumps into the local economy) and it sounds to me like all these folks are trying to do it protect certain property rights.

    It obviously costs the city money to put on the rally, and I guess most of that is funded through the sales taxes generated. But if the city feels it needs to generate additional funds to put on the rally and feels it can do so by protecting certain intellectual rights, then lets applaud them for being responsible and trying to find ways to keep the money flowing so that the rally can continue and the city can continue to fund the necessary services.

    I believe that there are two main names on “t-shirts” in Sturgis. One is “Sturgis Bike Week” and the other is “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally”. “Sturgis Bike Week” is a privately owned company. They operate Glencoe campground, the drag strip, the convenience store out by Full Throttle, and I think “Rock the Rally”. “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally” is the city owned named. Depending on which t-shirt you buy, your money either goes to the private company or the city. Of course, the private company, Sturgis Bike Week, still pays sales taxes so even some of that money still winds up in city hands.

    I’m not advocating you buy your shirt from the city, (i.e. “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally”) or the private company (i.e. “Sturgis Bike Week”). That is totally up to you. But I think we are being a little harsh to criticize the community leaders for simply wanting to protect their legal name.

    I personally look forward to once again going to what I think is the best motorcycle rally in the world. See you there in 25 more days! Woohoo!

  14. 14 Bill James Jul 12th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    CoppellDarryl clearly does not understand intellectual property law. The committee does not own the name Sturgis anymore or less than anyone else. Any trademark they might (as unlikely as it is they could get a TM issued) get issued would have no effect on anyone who used the mark in the past. Additionally, since so many entities have rights to the marks I doubt they would be able to stop anyone from using them in the future. Trademark disputes are handled in Federal Court where they would not have an advantage like if they could bring cases in local courts. My concern is that as typical bureaucrats they will try to bully people who do not know the law or have the ability to stand up against their bullying. This is pure greed and a new tax by any other name. Government is always the problem, never the solution.

  15. 15 Pete Jul 12th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Looks like they are trying to get most of the people that make a buck off the rally to be part of this group… obviously so they can protect it for themselves. Just a new slant on the same old battle.

    What a neat concept though… suddenly claiming ownership of a 70 year old rally which the original owners (Jackpine Gypsies) abandoned many years ago. Good luck with that!

  16. 16 Susan & Bob Jul 12th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Oh thats just great……the WOLVES are guarding the HEN HOUSE!!!

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Cyril Huze