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.