Will The City Of Sturgis Support SMRI, The Organization Whose Sturgis Trademarks Are Currently Court Challenged?

cyril-huze-sturgis-rallyOn Monday July 15, 2013 the Sturgis Officials invited residents to a city council to share any concerns they may have with the city taking side with SMRI, the organization currently owner of the Sturgis trademarks, but challenged in court by opponents who allege that these trademarks were fraudulently acquired. Dean Kinney and Ross Lamphere, respectively president and member of SMRI, came to the meeting to present the organization and convince the Sturgis officials that nobody care more about Sturgis than SMRI.

SMRi President Dean Kinney, speaking before the council said “that if SMRi didn’t protect the marks they could be lost to someone else.” As a matter of fact, opponent Jack Hoel, son of “Pappy Hoel” who is considered the founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, correctly reminded those present that the rally did pretty well the first 50 years without the greed factor being thrown in by SMRI. The marks never got lost to anyone or to any group…until SMRI acquired it. “Don’t fall for that line” (the name Sturgis could be lost to someone else) added Jack Hoel “We are not best served by one group controlling the words Sturgis or Black Hills.” In 2011, SMRi started a federal lawsuit against Rushmore Photo & Gifts and Wal-Mart, alleging that they have infringed on its trademarks by selling items that say “Sturgis” without getting the permission of SMRi. The courts recently have said that the question should be determined by a jury.

sturgisteeSturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie acknowledged that the creation of SMRI, the defense and en forcement of their trademarks have been quite contentious and divisive throughout the community, but also stated that the trademarks have resulted in the single largest return to the community. of Sturgis The total value of the city’s licensing program in 2012 was $269,440, $115,057 in sponsorship and $154,383 from magazine income. But the city paid Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. $26,944 in 2012 in licensing fees so that the city could solicit Sturgis rally sponsorships. Under a five-year contract approved in January with SMRi, the city if Sturgis will continue to pay 10 percent to SMRi for the use of the Sturgis trademarks (the name Sturgis, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis Bike Week, Take the Ride to Sturgis, Sturgis Rally & Races, and Black Hills.)

Ainsle added that “It is undeniable that this act (the creation of SMRI) was contentious and has fostered deep suspicion amongst several within our community. However, the transfer has occurred and for the first time the Sturgis motorcycle rally trademarks have been perfected and are all housed within one non-profit organization” “It’s impossible for the community to turn back now with regards to the trademark issue.”

SMRI opponent Jack Hoel said that the city is setting itself up for liability by supporting SMRi. “Given the fact that a city is deemed to have ‘deep pockets’ Sturgis may have to pay a steep penalty for being on the wrong side,” Ainslie doesn’t agree. “Though a very understandable concern, this would not occur. The act of supporting an organization or having a representative on a nonprofit board does not financially bind one entity to another.” The Sturgis city council plans to take a definitive position, for or against SMRI. at its meeting on July 29.

24 Responses to “Will The City Of Sturgis Support SMRI, The Organization Whose Sturgis Trademarks Are Currently Court Challenged?”

  1. 1 Blitz Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Got a simple idea. Immediately fire City Manager Daniel Ainslie.

  2. 2 Shifter Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Unbelievable. The city of Sturgis paying for the right to use the Sturgis name. Ainslie committed to have the city pay SMRI for 5 years??? And now it doesn’t know how to pull back, so try to convince the Sturgis residents that it is the right choice??? What about a class action from the residents against all members of the city council?

  3. 3 P. Hamilton Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:16 am

    The funny/sad parts of the story.

    “SMRi President Dean Kinney, speaking before the council said “that if SMRi didn’t protect the marks they could be lost to someone else.” But it was fine it fell in the hands of SMRI when it was belonging to no-one without any problem for running the rally. Kinney is a joke.

  4. 4 Arturo Martinez Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    The city of Sturgis is unable to balance a budget, so it is for sale to any organization bringing money? It’s also a very bad idea to pay for trademarks when these trademarks are strongly challenged in court. If SMRI loses its trademmarks, the City will never recover the fees they paid to SMRI and is exposed to legal action that will cost a bundle to the city, so high extra local taxes to all Sturgis residents. How dumb.

  5. 5 Rodent Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Go get ‘ em Jack, your daddy would be proud!

  6. 6 John Talar Jul 17th, 2013 at 9:44 am

    The residents don’t benefit from the rally? Are you kidding? See the rent they charge to vendors for a piece of sidewalk or for a few sq.ft of grass around their shitty houses. Even the local churches makes big money with parking fees for cars and motorcycles. Maybe boycotting any entrance in the city of Sturgis during the rally will make Ainslie improve his Bikers IQ.

  7. 7 Terence Tory Jul 17th, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Maybe “The Lack Bills mode of traffic” should expect some competition from some town down the road.Time for a nearby rival event focused on under thirty year old riders who expect something new and fresh………Just to throw a belt into a knife fight:I think H-D could release a FXD Sturgis MkIII without paying anyone for the name,having established it’s use of the town’s name on one of it’s bikes over thirty years ago.

  8. 8 Blackmax Jul 17th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Anybody who pays anything to SMRI is begging to be taken for a ride & I don;t mean on a cycle ….
    if you go, don’t buy anything from SMRI

  9. 9 Woody's Jul 17th, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Too late for any logic now, it’s in the hands of the lawyers 😉

  10. 10 Brescia Jul 17th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Don’t buy anything licensed by SMRI until lawyers destroy this group of people symbolizing the Sturgis greed. We are the children of Papy Hoel. The rally belongs to all bikers. Do we ask the city of Sturgis to pay us for enriching its residents? For some, 70% to 90% of their yearly income is made during the rally. Let’s be serious.

  11. 11 biker64 Jul 18th, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Just remember that the owner of Hot Leathers is on the board of SMRI. So when you see official Sturgis shirts being sold at his numerous Hot Leathers stands through out the Black Hills don’t buy anything they sell. Hot Leathers has now trademarked the names of Bike rallies all over the country. Sturgis is the only one being challanged.

  12. 12 Misty Serrano Jul 18th, 2013 at 8:05 am

    “The 10 percent royalty payment is identical to the previous agreement, which was originally entered into between the city and the chamber,” Ainslie said.

  13. 13 BlackHillsLocal Jul 18th, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I am always amazed at how quick people are to judge, especially people who don’t have all the of facts or ANY of the responsibility on this issue or any other issue for that matter.

    My mother is totally disabled now and she lives in long term care in Sturgis. The media seems to only cover the most outrageous biker behavior leading people to assume that the whole Sturgis event is like that or all bikers are like that.

    No one knows that every year biker organizations make a point to visit and give gifts to the residents of the nursing home. The media doesn’t report that the Christian Motorcycle Association donates and maintains the benches that line Main Street so people have a place to sit and rest or that they give away water. Kindness just isn’t sexy enough.

    No one reports on the people who are left over after the rally without any resources who get help from local churches–churches some think are greedy because they pay for people to park in their parking lots.

    It is really quite simple — if you don’t believe in the trademark don’t buy anything with the trademark, but don’t punish everyone else who doesn’t have anything to do with the trademark. I surely don’t judge all motorcyclists for the behavior of a few.

  14. 14 Rodent Jul 18th, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Hot Leathers hasn’t trade marked the recent hugely successful HOLLISTER MOTORCYCLE RALLY, THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE AMERICAN BIKER! WWW World Dynamics did!

  15. 15 Pepper Massey Jul 20th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Jack makes a few good points, however, interesting to note – Jack Hoel sold the rights to his father’s name and likeness, Pappy Hoel, to Michael Ballard of Full Throttle some years ago. Today, if you want to use the name or likeness of Pappy, you need Mike’s permission and pay dearly for it.

    A bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

    Also interesting to note – SMRi, after years of legal battles that some of you may remember reading about in this very blog, now owns the rights to Sturgis Bike Week. IF SMRi was truly concerned about the citizens of Sturgis they might have reconsidered the fallout from that fight = 1. a successful business that employed 300 locals, and paid city and state taxes, gone; 2. a brand that had been well marketed and was thriving, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, has been shelved and now generates zero for the community.

  16. 16 Brett Wagner Jul 20th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    The judge asked for a jury trial. Sounds evident to me that SMRI manipulates Ainsle hoping that he will convince residents that SMRI is good to them. Why? Because the jury will include Sturgis residents. Dean Kinney & co, all working for themselves, for their own businesses, not for the rally. Pefect example is member Hot Leathers. Many organizations/groups raise more money for the Black Hills than SMRI gives to the city of Sturgis. They don’t ask for trademarks. They ask for nothing. SMRI, a bunch of people with who I would not have lunch. Shame on this group.

  17. 17 Hillstop Jul 20th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    If the city of Sturgis supports SMRI, the idea of refusing to enter the city limits during the rally is a pretty good one. Maybe Ainslie will understand who brings money to the city. Let him save on trash removal and see what will be the city budget bottom line. TRIPLE RED.

  18. 18 Rodent Jul 20th, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Logoed items are not collectables, worry more about the recording of your license plate wherever you go. Big brother will be watching you 24/7 while you’re enjoying the rally if you travel around.

  19. 19 P. Bradshaw Jul 20th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    It looks to me that if SMRI loses its trademarks, the City of Sturgis and Ainslie are exposed to a big lawsuit for spending the city money with SMRI while they know that the legality of this organization and of the trademarks is court challenged. I also see a conflict of interest. A lawsuit could leave the city coffers dry for many, many years and provoke a huge jump in local taxes for all residents. The City of Sturgis should have a neutral position or…

  20. 20 Terence Tory Jul 20th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Detroit’s gone fiscal AWOL with bankruptcy,its rather fashionable now.Maybe they could cover any city debts by selling the whole town to a Chinese theme park developer and load it all piece by piece into shipping containers? William Randolph Hearst style.

  21. 21 Rodent Jul 21st, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Terence Tory
    Much better idea. Lets send all illegals who want citizenship to revitalize Detroit. After 5 years of success in Detroit they can apply for citizenship.

  22. 22 Terence Tory Jul 21st, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Rodent,I meant Sturgis to China.Not Detroit to China.

  23. 23 Woody's Jul 21st, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Rodent, maybe credit Greg Gutfeld when you use his ideas? 🙂 (My apology in advance if it’s an unbelieveable coincidence, considering he said that on “The Five” last Friday.

  24. 24 Darryl Briggs Jul 22nd, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I will be in Sturgis again this year and like the last two years, I won’t buy anything SMRI licensed nor will I shop at Hot Leathers.

    I will buy stuff from Sturgis vendors though. I don’t want to hurt the city even though they may currently be lead by a council with their heads up their butts. Really, they pay to use their own name? Geez.

    Anyway, vendors pay sales tax fees to the city, Let the city get their money from those fees.

    BTW, have you noticed since SMRI trademarked you don’t see the “Daily Specials” that you used to on shirts. At least I haven’t seen them. Those were sometimes good deals.

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Cyril Huze