Judge Denies Request For Restraining Order Against SMRI. Only Trademarked Sturgis Merchandise On Sale During 71th Rally.

On Wednesday August 3rd, in District Court Of South Dakota, Rushmore Photo & Gifts filed a motion for a temporary restraining order  and a preliminary injection against SMRI (Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc.) to try to prevent the non-profit group from enforcing its Federal trademarks, including Sturgis & Black Hills Rally during the motorcycle event from August 8th to 14th.

At 9:50 p.m. yesterday Friday August 5, 2011, following 7 hours of testimony by both parties, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken denied Rushmore Photo & Gifts for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would have permitted all the vendors to sell products bearing the word “Sturgis.”

To support this motion, it was alleged again that SMRI  Trademark Registration for the name “Sturgis” as it relates to goods and services of the Sturgis Bike Rally is invalid and based on fraud. SMRi is a not-for-profit corporation that controls several trademarks and intellectual property associated with the Sturgis motorcycle event. The group is licensing its trademark names associated with the rally for a fee and requires final approval on all designs and packaging of products.

Opponents to SMRI claim that businesses have been selling rally merchandise for years, noting that they were not invited or even excluded from the efforts to obtain the trademarks. They would like to keep a long standing business practice of free use of the Sturgis name as hundred of vendors have been using the name “Sturgis” to sell products for a decade or more.

Dean Kinney of SMRi testified that trademarks and licensing are necessary to ensure quality control of the products connected with the Sturgis rally and that royalties from licensing agreements support the event and its promotion. It seems that judge Viken denied the last minute restraining order against SMRI because he thinks that there is little likelihood that Rushmore Photo & Gifts can win a its legal battle to use the word “Sturgis” on products it manufactures and sells throughout the region in connection with the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Date for trial is not set, yet.

35 Responses to “Judge Denies Request For Restraining Order Against SMRI. Only Trademarked Sturgis Merchandise On Sale During 71th Rally.”

  1. 1 Rod Brechter Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:04 am


  2. 2 Small Made in America Business Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Gee I wonder who the judge plays golf with on Sunday…WHO is he to already try the case and publically anounce that he thinks Rushmore Gifts wont win…

    .I guess he doesnt need to set a trial he already held his own and made his opinion public…

    The total injustice is that Jerry uses all the small manufacturers for his design team and creativity then would most likely deny them a license to sell their own product…because he is greedy.
    None of that money will ever stay in Sturgis.

    What has happened to the American Legal System.

    Just sayin

  3. 3 Jason Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    All this is BS. No judge is going to decide a restraining order while the rally is going on. Let’s wait for a trial to see if opponents arguments are valid or not.

  4. 4 Kirkpatrick Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    This judge is a wimp. It’s so much easier for him not to take position by letting things as they are and sending the ball to another judge.

  5. 5 Ronnie Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I don’t think it’s over.

  6. 6 D. Gruber Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Now I see SMRI explaining that they can’t give any money to local charities before 5 years because they are in debt with lawyer fees paid to obtain their trademarks. New BS coming.

  7. 7 Dyno Phil Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    7 hours of arguing? So, it could easily have gone either way.

  8. 8 Hamilton Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    On Rapid City Journal, they conduct an online poll. A majority is for boycott. Is it going to help the rally?

  9. 9 Small Made in America Business Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    “While the rally is going” on should not be a deciding factor in the decision.Especially if you are monopolizing it….
    My vendors have to provide documentation so they can sell any LEFT OVER merchandise from last year. These people have to survive in this economy.

    It may be BS to you, but not to them.

  10. 10 Dakota Citizen Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Our justice system, like the US economy, just got downgraded one more notch.

  11. 11 Carolina Brad Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:38 am

    So Sturgis is no more a free market motorcycle event? I am in Sioux Falls in direction of Sturgis. Will not buy any SMRI merchandise.

  12. 12 A 1 CYCLES Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:44 am


  13. 13 Just my opinion Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:45 am

    This should not be a surprise to anyone that knows and understands the trademark laws. as I have stated before a judge must consider a trademark to be valid until proven otherwise. If this guy had a real trademark attorney he would know that. And would not have wasted our tax dollars we pay this judge to hear a case that was not possible to win under the current laws.

  14. 14 Small Made in America Business Aug 6th, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Way to take a stand Carolina Brad…..READ THOSE LABELS!

  15. 15 Cantrell Aug 6th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Ride out with the shirts you rode in on Spend your money on women and booze!


  16. 16 Black Hills Flag. Aug 6th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    As a vendor you would be foolish to show your designs to SMRI and lose control over them. It would be like volunteering to give all your designs to Hot Leathers.

  17. 17 Deadwood Miner Aug 6th, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Sounds like SMRI could mean Sturgis Motorcycle Racketeer Inc.?

  18. 18 Small Made in America Business Aug 6th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    The list below are rallies listed on the federal trademark site awaiting a decision from the board for ownership by guess who…the same fine folks that are monopolizing the market in Sturgis …

    The vendors will be there mercy here too…


  19. 19 Wanderer Aug 6th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Simple. Berkowitz tries to corner all the market and is the enemy of all rally small businesses. Charities? Are you kidding?

  20. 20 David Aug 6th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    All of this BS just so you can make a dollar off of selling tshirts that are made in mid and far east countries! What a shame! You might as well import the logo’s also.

    SSD; David

  21. 21 Patrick Rogers Aug 6th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    The Judge is wrong, wrong, wrong but I understand he didn’t want to order a restraining order not knowing the trademark dispute details. I hope that somebody is going to oblige SMRI to open its books. Show us the licensing agreements. Show us where the money is going. Why to oblige the licensees to sign a release stating they will never sue SMRI later? Not feeling confident? How much money Hot Leathers a.k.a. Berkowitz is taking from the licensing fees for a design inspired by all other independent tee shirt vendors? Is there a conflict of interest? Did Hot Leathers ever create its own designs? Where Hot Leathers merch is coming from? From the US or from abroad ? Is he a Sturgis local who wants to benefit charities or an opportunist from from out of state trying to register by all means all rally names in the US to benefit personally under the cover of local charities? I don’t think this trade dispute is over.

  22. 22 Don Gerber Aug 6th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    SMRI, a bunch of low class tee shirt vendors who think they are important. They mean nothing to the rally.

  23. 23 RUB Aug 7th, 2011 at 2:19 am

    CORPORATE GREED is alive and well .

  24. 24 MotorcycleMarc Aug 7th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Stay tuned. It ain’t over till it’s over. Unfortunately, a lot of good money will be wasted thru the process. Good luck!

  25. 25 Boss Hawg Aug 7th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    It’s to bad that the greed of few takes precedence over the many bikers that save all year to attend the rally and just want to buy token t-shirts and souvenirs to remind them of their good times.

    Hopefully the courts will rule the trademarks are invalid and levy costs, expenses and damages to those other than SMRI.

    Boss Hawg

  26. 26 1550tc Aug 7th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Just buy and unofficial official T shirt for fun of it…….f–k all the greedy bastards……

    best rally t shirt is the one that says…if it fucks , flyes or floats its cheaper to lease it :)….just ask tiger woods

  27. 27 biker64 Aug 7th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Boycott Hot Leathers and Black Hills Harley Davidson. These are the main two companies benefiting the most from the BS trademarks. Spread the word. All the bikers symbolise to Jerry is cash, nothing more. On his Facebook they have a contest to send in a photo holding a Hot Leathers bag, he couldn’t care less about your bike or rally photos showing the good time you had with your bros. .
    No, they want to see who is buying their sh!t

  28. 28 biker64 Aug 7th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Boycott their official shirts and Hot Leathers

  29. 29 bigitch Aug 7th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    isn’t there a point when a name is used for so long that it becomes “public domain”?

    there by not allowing some one to trademark something that is used by one and all. if not i want a trade mark on baseball, basketball, and any other sport that exists. matter of fact i’ll trademark ‘motorcycle’.

  30. 30 Lugnut Aug 8th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Take a Sharpie and a three pack of Hanes t-shirts from Wal-Mart. Write on the front and back “2011 STURGIS RALLY”. Wear it every day. Get hundreds or even thousands to do this. Save money. Really and I mean really piss off the trademark hogs.

    If you have to wear black – they do make silver sharpies.

    After a day in the heat in you know where, it will smell just as bad as the $35 trademaked t-shirt.

  31. 31 oh come on Aug 10th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t see what the big deal is – SMRi is doing the same thing that every major university, major league team, and/or major attraction in the country is doing and has to do. Everyone can continue to sell Sturgis products, you just have to get SMRi’s approval of your artwork first and then pay them a license fee. Just the same as if you want to sell University of Colorado, NFL, NBA, or major league baseball products. The Rally is a big deal now and it has more competition from places a lot closer to where more bikers live than ever before. If we want to continue to have a healthy rally, we need to support SMRi. Afterall, they are bearing the brunt of the expense to put this thing on in a way that attracts more people every year.

  32. 32 Small Made in America Business Aug 12th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Yeah right, get SMRi’s approval to sell the designs that the rest of us did the work on…
    They are not bearing anything but dollar signs and very little will stay where it belongs…
    Wake up its called “GREED”…you must have got big money for that comment…
    Yeah you are right about the competition….Big corporate greed stomps out small business…
    They better be carefulthey dont put all the small guys out….they’ll have to hire an actual design and for next season.

  33. 33 Small Made in America Business Aug 12th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    design team

    BTW We should all be trying buy whatever we can that is still actually made here…

  34. 34 Darryl Briggs Aug 15th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Well I stayed away from Hot Leathers and BH Harley Davidson. I bought “South Dakota” shirts. Next year, I’ll buy from volunteer fire departements, maybe Nemo or Hill City.

    Hopefully though next year we won’t have to worry about this.

  35. 35 joyce Nov 25th, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    corporate greed is alive in the biking world. Who would have thought. Luckily I unknowingly bought my smri gear last year cuz I certainly wont be this next year. Now to find out what events they also provide so I can stay away from them too. I feel like I have been ripped off by the mob. If I dont buy from them I dont buy from anyone.

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Cyril Huze