Update On the Legal Battle Over The Sturgis And Black Hills Rally Trademarks

You asked me over and over what was the status of the litigation opposing merchants to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc (SMRI) owner of the 2 trademarks Sturgis Rally and Black Rally and a couple of other variations. First, regarding the lawsuit in Federal Court between Rushmore Photo and SMRI, both parties are waiting for a judge in Rapid City to set a date for the trial. Second, on Friday October 21, 2011 the association called Concerned Citizens For Sturgis (CCFS) and regrouping Sturgis area citizens, local merchants and rally vendors and created to oppose and ask for cancellation of these trademarks filed legal action against SMRI in the United States Patent And Trademark Office. At the end of this article, I post a link to the full petition by CCFS. It’s long, but worth reading. I summarize below the main grounds to support this petition by CCFS.

1- Sturgis is the name and designator of a geographic place, namely the town of Sturgis. Black Hills is the name and designator of a geographic place, namely a group of mountains in western Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held since 1938.

2- For many years the terms “Sturgis” & Black Hills” are and have been used for goods and services by non-licensed third parties. SMRI was created only in March 2010.

3- The Sturgis Area Chamber Of Commerce filed trademark application on January 30, 2001, stating falsely that to the best of its knowledge no person, firm, corporation or association has the right to use the Sturgis mark in commerce while in fact numerous entities and businesses used the term Sturgis to market their good and services. In addition, the Sturgis Chamber filed a claim that the Sturgis mark was entitled to Black Hills Motor Classic Sturgis Rally & Races Black Hills SD. Application was opposed by Jom Doyle from Black Hills harley-davidson (Dba Sturgis Harley-Davidson) and Jerry Berkowitz from Good Sports Sturgis because Sturgis primarily and merely is a geographical description and that they were using the name since 1981.

4- The PTO (Patent & Trademark Office) denied the Sturgis Chamber application on the grounds, among others, that Sturgis primarily and merely a geographical description. Then, on June 30, 2010 the Sturgis Chamber assigned its trademark application to a group including Jerry Berkowitz (Good Sports, Jim Burgess (Sturgis Harley), John Johnson (First Interstate Bank) and Dean Kinneyof Home Slice. On July 2, 2010, Good Sports and Sturgis Motorcycles withdrew their opposition to the original Sturgis trademark application without . The group called SMRI got trademark registrations without Good Sports and Sturgis Harley informing the Patent Office of their original statements for opposition.

5- The Concerned Association Of Sturgis Citizens (CCFS) claims Fraudulent Procurement Of Registrations (Sturgis & Black Hills) and ask cancelation of these 2 trademarks given to SMRI.

The CCFS Website is currently being updated and will post trial dates for both the above actions. Full legal action notice by CCFS against SMRI by clicking CCSF Against SMRI Lawsuit

8 Responses to “Update On the Legal Battle Over The Sturgis And Black Hills Rally Trademarks”

  1. 1 hk Oct 29th, 2011 at 9:49 am

    what about sturgis north in canada ? Apparently they bought the rights to use the name sturgis

  2. 2 Brandon Oct 29th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I am pretty sure SMRI is going to lose their trademarks. Good.

  3. 3 Donny Oct 29th, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Go CCFS. Eliminate these greedy jerks at SMRI.

  4. 4 Georgia Red Dirt Oct 30th, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I think the legal term is prior art. Basically if someone else has done something in the past, you can not get a patent on it now. It would be like trying to build a Evo engine in your garage from scratch and trying to patent it.

  5. 5 bean're Oct 31st, 2011 at 10:06 am

    In the mean time, the Little Sturgis Rally in Sturgis, Kentucky and to change it’s name and by that ended up changing it’s complete organization and the future of it will be in jeopardy. The harm has already been done.

  6. 6 Mike corbin Oct 31st, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Riders feel used, lot of sarcasm @ Sturgis this year

  7. 7 Donnie Oct 31st, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Wherever Berkowitz is involved you can be extremely suspicious. Never walking straight…

  8. 8 Hills And Tees Oct 31st, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    CCFS, if able to raise enough money for legal fees, is going to win. By the way, we still wait to know how the 2011Sturgis Rally has benefited from these abusive trademarks by a group of greedy businessmen just looking to fill their pockets with a rally not belonging to them. It belongs to all bikers, to nobody else. CCFS, punish these opportunists.

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Cyril Huze