Officials with Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. announced today that they have settled the lawsuit with a Kentucky entity formerly billing itself as the “Little Sturgis Rally.” As a part of the agreement, the Kentucky group has agreed to change both its corporate and trade name, eliminating the word mark Sturgis® when used in connection with a motorcycle rally or any other derivations of marks that may be confusingly similar to those owned by SMRi. The Kentucky group also agreed to accept a Consent Final Judgment and a Stipulated Permanent Judgment in favor of SMRi and paid the South Dakota community oriented non-profit an “undisclosed sum,” according to Dean Kinney, Chairperson of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc.
“Our organization is charged with promoting and enhancing the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally while providing a charitable return for the greater Sturgis area, and 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 Kinney. The lawsuit began several years ago when SMRi’s predecessor, the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce, became aware that the Kentucky event was continuing its unauthorized use even after an attempt by a former associate of the Kentucky organization to federally register the name “Little Sturgis” was rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Longtime Black Hills-area banker John E. Johnson, a board member of SMRi, said the group is committed to protecting the Sturgis Rally. “Tourism is extremely vital to the economy of the Black Hills, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a crown jewel for the industry,” Johnson said. “Motorcycle tourism in the Black Hills and the Sturgis® brand are both at risk if we allow unauthorized use of these valuable marks. This is not something of importance to just Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. but indeed to the hundreds of Black Hills tourism businesses and jobs that exist, in part, because of the worldwide notoriety of the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally.”
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. is the owner of the portfolio of trademarks and service marks related to the world-famous event, including the word marks STURGIS® and BLACK HILLS ® when used in connection with Rally goods and services. The City of Sturgis is a licensee of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. and is authorized to sell sponsorships using the intellectual property of the organization. SMRi also has about a dozen official licensees for a wide- variety of products. Distributors and retailers of STURGIS® and BLACK HILLS® Rally-related merchandise can be certain they are purchasing authorized and officially licensed merchandise of the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally, simply by sourcing it through a licensee. “The tourism season is here,” commented Kinney “and we anticipate a strong year for the industry and especially for the hundreds of retailers that sell our products. We appreciate their business and that of the hundreds of thousands of consumers that seek out and purchase the products of this remarkable and historic brand.” Questions regarding the licensing program of the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally can be directed to Lisa Weyer, a Licensing Agent for SMRI, at 605.347.5336 or Lisa.Weyer@SturgisProducts.com.