Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (SMRI) attempts to answer the 10 questions that have been distributed to the media with clear and concise answers to the extent the questions were clear. (I was not able to verify the information and alleged statements provided below by SMRI)
1. SMRi recently added two new licensees, Biker Design Inc. and Motorcycle Rally USA. These are two more significant distributors that have recognized SMRi as the rightful holder of intellectual property pertaining to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. SMRi is pleased to have Biker Design Inc. and Motorcycle Rally USA on board as suppliers of quality merchandise at the 2011 Rally.
2. Besides its mission to improve the rally, SMRi also has the mission to return a charitable benefit to the greater Sturgis community. By way of example, SMRi recently donated $3000 to Sturgis Rally Charities, which in turn donated it to Neighborworks. Neighborworks used the money to complete a fundraising goal in Sturgis to help with their GroupWorks program, which helps low income, elderly and disabled community members fix up their homes.
3. SMRi has the exclusive right to use the trademarks Sturgis Rally and Black Hills Rally in conjunction with motorcycle rally goods and services, and otherwise so as to prevent consumer confusion and false advertising. Businesses located in Sturgis and the Black Hills area remain free to use
those geographic designations to connote their non-motorcycle rally goods and services in a fair and truthful manner.
4. Jerry Berkowitz has been singled out unfairly in the media and is just another board member. He holds the board seat designated for a licensee of the program and he has no more say or influence than anyone else on the board.
5. Any business is able to buy official licensed merchandise to retail from a wide-variety of the official licensees of SMRi. Moreover, any business willing to comply with reasonable quality control requirements with respect to the quality of their Sturgis Motorcycle Rally goods and services and their use of the proprietary trademarks of SMRi is invited to contact SMRi’s licensing agent, HomeSlice Management, to explore whether a license or sublicense is right for their business and for SMRi.
6. SMRi is actively seeking solutions to any issues through active dialogue with numerous entities and national businesses who have any questions or concerns regarding official licensed product. SMRi’s representatives have held numerous meetings with businesspeople, vendors and landowners, to discuss SMRi’s intellectual property rights, the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and to answer questions. SMRi plans to continue and expand this practice.
7. By supporting SMRi and buying officially licensed merchandise, retailers and consumers are supporting the health and vitality of the greater Sturgis area and the enormous economic impact of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. SMRi looks forward to continuing to invest in the Sturgis-area community and local charitable causes, which investments are made possible by royalties generated through licensing and sponsorship
activities and the countless hours invested by SMRi’s volunteer Board members and many others.
SMRi answers to 10 Questions
1) If the groups “Black Hills Harley Davidson, and Hot Leathers/Good Sports Inc.” initially opposed the “STURGIS” and “BLACK HILLS” Trademarks being obtained by anyone, why did they create SMRI along with “Home Slice” to control and enforce these Trademarks, with such heavy hands? If they had such pure intentions in the beginning, what now is their purpose?
The circumstances evolved after a long series of conversations over many months. Key to the outcome was the formation of a not-for-profit
organization, with no shareholders, governed by a volunteer board, to oversee the intellectual property of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and work
together to support the local community. The result was the formation of the South Dakota 501 (C)(6) organization, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. The Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors unanimously approved the transfer of the Sturgis Rally-related marks to the new organization, and maintains a seat on the Board.
2) Who are the principals of SMRI and what interest do they represent?
SMRI is a not-for-profit organization with no shareholders and a volunteer board. The board is comprised of 8 board members, with the possibility of a 9th member. Two members represent the interest of Sturgis Rally-oriented businesses, two represent the interest of non-Rally Black Hills-area businesses, one member represents the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce, one member represents the City of Sturgis, one member represents the primary motorcycle manufacturer and one represents the licensees. Board terms are 3-years (initially staggered for stability on the board) and no board member can serve more than three consecutive terms. The current members are; Ross Lamphere, Dean Kinney, John Johnson, Susan Johnson (no relation), Karen Simmons, Jamie McVay, Jim Burgess and Jerry Berkowitz.
3) If SMRI’s intent is noble why is the organization closed to additional members?
Like most non-profit boards, this one has a certain number of members who rotate out over time.
4) Where are the documents to prove SMRI has any legitimate title to their assumed power?
The primary intellectual property of the organization has been successfully registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office and its records are public. SMRi owns U.S. registrations to the marks STURGIS and BLACK HILLS when used in connection with goods and services pertaining to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, STURGIS BIKE WEEK, TAKE THE RIDE TO STURGIS and others.
5) If philanthropy is SMRI’s goal why are major board members excluded from royalty contribution?
While the terms of all licenses are confidential, this statement/question is misleading and false.
6) How do funds controlled by external private business (owned by a SMRI board member) end up in the control of the SMRI board?
This question is confusing. The funds of SMRI are under the supervision of a Certified Public Accountant.
7) Once funds are in the SMRI board’s control, what criteria is used for teir dispersal?
SMRI’s funds are dispersed with two primary duties in mind: Improve, promote and enhance the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and related intellectual property, and provide a charitable return to the Greater Sturgis area.
8- What guaranties are given that sometime in the future this board of SMRI does not transfer their control to a different group of people who’s intent is unknown?
No such transfer is anticipated. However, by law, the transfer of SMRI’s asets, a 501(c)(6) community development organization, would have to be to another not-for-profit organization.
9) In order to obtain the registration for the term “STURGIS”, a sworn tatement to the U.S. Trademark office was made that STURGIS was exclusively used by the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce from 1987-2001. Anyone who is from his area well knows that this statement is False. How could SMRI, in good conscience, seek to enforce the STURGIS registration when it was obtained based on a lie?
The premise of this question is false and is a misrepresentation of any statements made by SMRI’s predecessor to the U.S.P.T.O.
10) If SMRI is such a benevolent philanthropy based organization, why was their 1st offcial act to crush and destroy a children’s charity in
This statement is misleading, inflammatory and false. Like its pedecessors, SMRI has a responsibility to protect its intellectual prorty. Indeed it is vital to the continued economic impact of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that the STURGIS and related brands associated with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally be strong and protected from infringement by others. In any event, SMRI’s predecessor to the intellectual property rights sought to reach a solution with the Kentucky organization before suit was instigated, and the case was resolved earlier this year pursuant to which the Kentucky organization agreed that it infringed on SMRI’s rights, judgment was granted against the Kentucky organization and it changed its name to something not infringing on SMRI’s legal rights. As far as we know, the Kentucky charity still exists and is able to operate a motorcycle rally and distribute funds to charities of its choice – it just is not allowed to infringe SMRI’s trademark rights by misappropriating the STURGIS trademark to its own 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 STURGISR and BLACK HILLS R 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.