SMRi Opposes Attempt By “Concerned Citizen” To Seize Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Goodwill

This press release was sent to me by the press person of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. (SMRI) I publish it as is, mentioning, if necessary, that the statements of opinion it contains are of course those of SMRI, not mine.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. (SMRi), a non-profit with the mission of enhancing and growing the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and providing a charitable return to the greater Sturgis area, today announced it has filed an opposition proceeding with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against Fresno, California-based Renegade Classics Corp.

Renegade Classics Corp. seeks to establish the exclusive right in the United States to use the terms “Sturgis Rally Week” and “Sturgis Rally Week” with a motorcycle design.  SMRi, owner of senior rights to the Sturgis®, Sturgis Bike Week®, Sturgis Rally & Races(TM) and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally(TM) brands, among others, has opposed the California company’s attempt to trade off of SMRi’s goodwill by registering its own confusingly similar trademarks. SMRi already is engaged in an expensive legal battle with Renegade Classics Corp’s ally, Rushmore Photo & Gifts, pertaining to Rushmore Photo’s use of terms “Officially Licensed Sturgis” and “Authentic Sturgis,” among other confusing terms.  Kent Mortimer, the owner of Renegade Classics Corp., testified on behalf of Rushmore Photo last summer in a federal court hearing in Rapid City, and Mortimer and the Rushmore Photo owners last year formed a group called “Concerned Citizens for Sturgis” for the purpose of attacking the Sturgis-based non-profit’s intellectual property rights.

Mortimer is no stranger to intellectual property litigation.  Last year Mortimer and his company, Renegade, settled litigation asserted against them by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation in federal court in California relating to Fox’s allegation that Mortimer and his company infringed Fox’s rights in the Sons of Anarchy trademark and related copyrights.  To resolve the case (CACD Case No. cv-10-8565), Mortimer and Renegade agreed that they would be permanently enjoined from any future use of the SONS OF ANARCHY trademark, or the manufacture and distribution of any copyrighted material from the “Sons of Anarchy” television series.  They also agreed to pay to Fox $50,000 for each future violation of the consent order.

Now, Mortimer and his company are seeking to register trademarks that would trade on SMRi’s goodwill.  “Even while claiming SMRi has no such trademark rights, and while calling themselves the ‘Concerned Citizens for Sturgis,’ a Concerned Citizen is trying to trademark Sturgis Rally Week for himself for purely commercial interests,” said SMRi Board President Dean Kinney. “We thought it important that someone protected the Sturgis® brand, and do it on behalf of the Sturgis community.  Some people call Concerned Citizens’ and Renegade’s actions ‘astroturfing,’ in which for-profit companies form a fake grassroots organization to generate support for their corporate, for-profit agenda.  Mortimer’s effort to monopolize the term “Sturgis Rally Week” while serving as President of the “Concerned Citizens for Sturgis” is evidence of this.”

SMRi was created as a non-profit to support the local community through management of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the intellectual property associated with it to facilitate the vitality and relevance of the most prestigious motorcycle rally in the world.

Kinney notes that SMRi’s ownership of Sturgis-related marks can be traced back to the 1938 origin of motorcycle rallies in the Sturgis area. Since then, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has become the basis for tourism in Sturgis and the surrounding area. SMRi is charged with growing and strengthening the Sturgis® brand to build stronger motorcycle tourism, notoriety for the rally, and a stronger local economy.

Nearly 100% of the funds given to Sturgis Rally Charities over the years have been generated directly as a result of trademarks. The City of Sturgis, a licensee of SMRi, generates funds through the sale of sponsorships. SMRi, from licensing funds, makes an annual donation to Sturgis Rally Charities Foundation, which is tasked with improving the quality of life for residents in and around Sturgis.

“SMRi’s legal battle is against a few select individuals who, purely for business and profit motives, don’t want to become Sturgis® licensees or procure officially licensed product from existing licensees,” said Kinney. “SMRi expects to ultimately return millions of dollars back to the Sturgis community through the rally, ownership and control of the related marks and intellectual property, and charitable giving. We will continue to aggressively protect the Sturgis® brand to enable that to happen.” (SMRI picture)


24 Responses to “SMRi Opposes Attempt By “Concerned Citizen” To Seize Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Goodwill”

  1. 1 Hungouver Jan 31st, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Never trust a man with two first names

  2. 2 Donny Jan 31st, 2012 at 7:23 am

    “Mortimer is no stranger to intellectual property litigation” So? SMRI and its members are also no stranger to litigation. This PR by SMRI is BS trying to manipulate public opinion. A judge will decide. Period.

  3. 3 Tween Jan 31st, 2012 at 7:32 am

    SMRI trying to do public character assassination to gain favor from who? From the public? Shame on SMRI? Very typical of their tactics.

  4. 4 Patrick Semery Jan 31st, 2012 at 7:38 am

    I find this pr attempt very arrogant. Since when a judge is going to decide on former cases that have nothing to do with this one? Why not bring up all the cases in which members of SMRI have been involved in the past. I had no opinion, but now I have one against SMRI.

  5. 5 Dan Brennard Jan 31st, 2012 at 8:10 am

    And what exactly SMRI expects sending this to the medias??? To be loved?

  6. 6 Shifter Jan 31st, 2012 at 8:29 am

    All this wording to say that they are going to oppose those who want to trademarks canceled. This is news! I lost 10 minutes of my life.

  7. 7 Oldude Jan 31st, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Srurgis isn’t what it used to be! Who gives a s–t!

  8. 8 Rapid Joe Jan 31st, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Black Hills of SD. The place where pirañhas live during summer

  9. 9 Kemper Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:34 am

    A tangled maze of evasive verbiage as the typical platform of SMRI arguments.

  10. 10 Buffalo Dean Jan 31st, 2012 at 9:38 am

    They are in it to promote their respective businesses and to boost their ego in the local community. Charities are just a mean to reach their objectives.

  11. 11 Doc Jan 31st, 2012 at 10:10 am

    right on Oldude

  12. 12 deadwood1783 Jan 31st, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Greed! Thats what SMRI is about, not charity. I simply do not do business with anyone involved with this organization, at least not knowingly. How is it JB can be on one side of the argument in Sturgis, and the other in Daytona? Doesn’t that seem odd? I’m all about capitalism, as long as its equal opportunity capitalism. Trademarking something that has been allowed to be used as a generic term so long may be more difficult in the long term legal battle than these guys expect. Just ask the Bayer folks. Aspirin was their trademarked name which was not enforced for years. When they tried to rein that one back in, they lost. We’ll see. The Courts will figure it out. Unless we truly do have the best Justice system money can buy, I would expect SMRI to come up short.

  13. 13 The Supreme Team Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I’d love to see the actual “non-profit” portion of the profits that are actually returned to the city.
    I could be wrong, but the $50k donation they made for publicity is likely not 2% of the actual profit they would make on a yearly basis from the rally. That means the remainder goes to the “employees” of the non-profit. Total crap. A $20 rally shirt equates to a raw cost of about $3-4.00 each. How about Sturgis and it’s surrounding areas are given 50% of every dollar earned by SMRI?

    If you’re going to sling somebody else’s name for your own gain, please don’t play the public as the fool…you’ll only make them despise you more.

  14. 14 Woody Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Buncha vultures.

  15. 15 Drake Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:31 am

    This junk PR tactic is despicable. SMRI should stay silent until a judge hear the case.

  16. 16 kevin Jan 31st, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    One way to avoid the issue all together, support the locals and enjoy the amazing quiet roads of Sturgis and it’s surroundings is to go other than during the rally. Honestly, having lived in Montana and traveled those roads anytime but Sturgis Rally you can’t appreciate it any better with the roads all to yourself, no wait for dinner at normal prices and not all the LEO’s brought in from surrounding states to hassle you to no end. Give it a shot and you’ll be surprised at what you’re really missing. Unless of course you like crowds, cops, double priced everything and bikes you’ll see online anyway.

  17. 17 just my opinion Jan 31st, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I just find it funny how these so called concerned citizens turns out to be one man named Kent Mortimer.
    He and his cronies have been bashing the guys that own these trademarks then turning around and try to register a Trademark almost identical to the one he claims is not valid. He makes statements claiming the owners of the Trademark are greedy but yet the owners of the Trademark have donated at least 50,000 dollars that we know of. How much has Kent Mortimer donated? Then he or his friends are posting comments on this blog saying the 50,000 is nothing compaired to what has been made, how would they even know how much has been made and are they taking in account the cost of fighting this lawsuit? Are these poster really the secret accountants of SMRI. I highly doubt it so they are obviously just spreading propaganda to help their image/case. And I would be willing to bet that the money donated by SMRI was 50,000 more than Kent Mortimer has given? This Kent Mortimer seems to be a guy that makes his living off the backs of others while trying to claim he is a freedom fighter just fighting for your rights. This is turning out just as I suppected it might. It is all about greed after all but it is the greed of this guy Kent Mortimer wanting to make money off a Trademark he does not own, wanting to make that money without any of the people from Sturgis getting any cut from his profits. Wanting to line his own pockets without paying a fee to use these Trademarks. This case as I see it and admittedly I don’t know all the facts but as I see it from the outside looking in it seems that Kent Mortimer believes it would be cheaper to try and break this Trademark than to pay a fee for using it. But even if he wins all he will have accomplished is creating hundreds of new vendors selling Sturgis Items and the town of Sturgis would make nothing from those sales. So either way I think this guy is shoting himself in the foot, because if he wins he will have given the right to print sturgis shirts to everyone and believe me there will be hundreds of new vendors selling those shirts, and with that many vendors selling them no body will make any real money, but if he loses he will be out some serious money for fighting this lawsuit and not be able to print the shirts anyway. Either way he comes out a loser. I am not an attorney nor have I played one on TV but I think SMRI may have a case against Mortimer’s attorneys for filing a case without good faith. There is a law called Rule 11 under civil code that states in a nut shell that if an attorney files a case without a good faith basic to do no more than cause the opposing side to spend money, then that attorney can be held liable for their expenses. The fact that now Kent Mortimer has filed for Trademarks that are very similar could be seen by a judge or jury to mean that he and his council believe these Trademarks are valid and they only filed this lawsuit to cost the opposition money in an effort to get them to either let Kent Mortimer use the Trademarks for free just to avoid fighting a very expensive case or to get them to allow the use of these Trademarks at very low cost. Either way SMRI may now have a case against Mortimers attornies that could possible leave him standing in court on his own. Because no attorney wants to work for free let alone lose money fighting a bogus fight. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But at least we now know that there are no concerned citizens backing this case just one greedy man named Kent Mortimer.

  18. 18 Concerned Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    @ JMO- First lets mention where the $50,000 SMRi “donated” came from! It came from the City of Sturgis – the City had to pay these people to use their own town name. Before 2011 Everyone was able to print Sturgis shirts without receiving Cease and Desist letters from SMRi threatening to sue them and confiscate their merchandise. SMRi was just formed in 2010 and received the “Trademark” in 2011. The rally has been going on since 1938, the people on the SMRi board spent millions of dollars fighting against the Sturgis Trademark, now they own it. Jerry Berkowitz can’t handle competition so he is trying to push people out of the market that has been there for many many years. Look at the Licensing Contract- all money is paid to Good Sports Inc., not anything to do with Sturgis. SMRi complains about all of their legal fees; maybe they should look at who THEY sued- a true Charity Organization for children “Little Sturgis” in Kentucky. They had their lawyers send out so many letters this last year threatening people; I am sure that cost a pretty penny. So really to gloat about the $50,000 donation seems a little ridiculous. The City of Sturgis should cut out the middle man and make the donation to the Charities themselves, after all that is where the money came from in the first place. They should get the accolades for it!!!

  19. 19 Texx Feb 1st, 2012 at 2:30 am

    It started out as a bike rally and then greed came to town…

  20. 20 just my opinion Feb 1st, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Concerned; You keep whining about how little was donated but never mention how much you gave. Why?
    Could it be that you have given nothing? And as I remember this story started with SMRI buying that Trademark from the city of Sturgis so how can you now claim Sturgis is being hurt by SMRI? Did they buy the Trademark or not? You yourself said after fighting the town of Sturgis over the Trademark they bought it? Could it be that you are just upset that you did not have the insight to purchase the Trademark yourself?
    I think we all see now that you are just a guy trying to make false accusations in an effort to gain support for your personal gain and you are just to cheap to pay a fee to make money off of that Sturgis name. The more people learn about your side of this issue the worse you come out looking.
    Tell us again how much did you donate to help the people of Sturgis? If someone is going to benefit from the Sturgis towns name shouldn’t it be the people that live in that area and not someone from California. Tell us again who is greedy because I am getting more confused after seeing more of the truth. Is it the guy from California who claims to be “the concerned citizens of Sturgis” that apparently does not live in Sturgis or any where near Sturgis and has done nothing but take from the town of Sturgis and its real citizens or is the greedy one SMRI that at the very least has donated 50,000 and could have done much more if the “concerned citizen’s” would not have filed this case to begin with. If you paid your fee to use that Trademark then that donation could have been more than the 55,000. And you would be making money not spending it fighting a lawsuit. But you want us to believe you are concerned for the people of Sturgis? If you are so concerned for the citizens of Sturgis, why do you insist on paying nothing to use their name to sell your products? You said once on this blog that people don’t buy t-shirts just because they say Sturgis on them, you said it is the design people buy. So design something people will want and stop costing the people of Sturgis much needed money. Concerned Citizen my ass more like greedy cheapskate.
    Have a nice day.

  21. 21 Sturgis Pride Feb 2nd, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    The Sturgis Rally was built and will continue to thrive on innovation, quality and superior customer service from independent businesses in a competitive, open market. If Dean Kinney and the rest of SMRI are allowed to regulate the entire event, it will be no more. What people do not realize is that Dean Kinney has set back the Sturgis Rally many times and wasted hundreds, if not millions of dollars of Sturgis citizens money in a quest to control something he will never be able to control. Keep wasting the City’s money Dean. If there is anything in Sturgis that should be regulated it is you and your greedy cohorts. We all can get along with a common enemy Dean Kinney and SMRI, thanks for keeping us strong!

  22. 22 GetReal Feb 5th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    @ JMO

    Why don’t you answer what has been asked before….Are you part of the Berkowitz team/investors or Blackhills Harley or both?

    Tell us what your role is in the contributions and how much you contributed?


  23. 23 Doug Feb 13th, 2012 at 11:48 am

    If any one thinks SMRI is doing anything for FREE they are idiots. Most of the board members all have a t -shirt based interest / or landlord type interest. I hope that the city doesn’t end up on the short side. If a non profit comp buys a trademark do you really think they won’t profit from it????

  1. 1 Sturgis Rally Trademarks Litigation. Kent Mortimer’s Answer To SMRI. at Cyril Huze Post – Custom Motorcycle News Pingback on Feb 15th, 2012 at 8:51 am
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