Sturgis name lawsuit sees reversal of decision

Remember this tasty piece of Friday Fudge, detailing a legal battle over who held the rights to the name of the Sturgis rally? Apparently, five years later, this is still going on, and the tables have turned.

Cyril Huze is reporting Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. has been told to pay back the $912,500 it had been awarded in a previous judgment, when a jury decided SMRI had a valid claim on the Sturgis name, and that retailers who used the name without paying up were infringing on that trademark.

How a corporation could own the rights to a town’s name was a bit of a mystery at the time, and that could have been why a judge overturned the earlier decision and ordered the money paid back. However, as Huze points out, SMRI’s claim on the Sturgis name has not yet been ruled invalid.

It’s hard to pick a favourite in this case, as one of the parties that was fined was Wal-Mart, which certainly isn’t in the rally T-shirt business because of a love for bikes. However, the whole thing was silly right from the start, and it’s amazing it’s gone this far, and for this long.

Hopefully, if there are future squabbles, the judge will just tell everybody to concentrate on riding motorcycles, not selling T-shirts. And, with any luck, a decisive end to this case will prevent similar silliness from popping up in Canada; we don’t need any aspiring T-shirt salespeople deciding they own a trademark on the phrase “Friday the 13th” and causing trouble around Port Dover.

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