Those who can remember way back to 2001 may recall a kerfuffle over the rights to the name Sturgis being held amongst some of the rally’s players in Sturgis, SD. According to Trademark’em, “[t]he trademark dispute concerning the “brand” Sturgis goes back to January 30, 2001 when the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce filed a trademark application for STURGIS (‘Sturgis Mark’).” This legal wrangling continued until it was at least partially resolved with the creation of Sturgis Motorcycle Ralley, Inc. (SMRi), which assumed the Sturgis Mark assets in 2011. Since this time, SMRi has actively pursued any perceived infringements of the Sturgis brand.
Most recently, SMRi defended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally trademark against Georgia company Renegade Classics and its retail store over its use of “Sturgis Rally Week” on products. SMRi successfully argued that Renegade Classics misuse would “confuse customers about the source of the products and deprive the City and the citizens of Sturgis of royalties due from officially licensed merchandise.”
“SMRi was established to spur economic development in the Black Hills region and to bring money back to the community through charitable contributions derived from sales of official licensed merchandise. When Renegade Classics and its agents use the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally trademarks without having a license, less money will go back to the community and we can’t stand for that,” said SMRi Board Member and City of Sturgis Councilman David Hersrud.
Although SMRi won this suit, the organization still has others working their way through the legal system. Actions againstRushmore Photo and Gift and Wal-Mart Stores for the use of “Officially Licensed Sturgis” and “Sturgis Motor Classic” on products are currently moving through the South Dakota federal courts.