Range Riders is embroiled in a trademark dispute with the Department of Internal Affairs

As the Glacier Range Riders head into the fast-approaching start of their third season in the Pioneer Baseball League, the team is dealing with a trademark dispute with the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Range Riders’ arrowhead-shaped logo, emblazoned with an “RR,” is too similar to the National Park Service’s logo, according to the appeal filed last summer with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The lawsuit was brought to public light by U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., who questioned Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about the dispute during a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on April 17. and called it “Frivolous and predatory.”

“This is the problem as a secretary, because a large department sometimes hurts local entities, like the local baseball team,” Zinke, a former Interior Secretary under Donald Trump, said at the hearing.

Minister Haaland stated that he is not aware of a trademark dispute, which is being handled by the department’s law firm.

“This is why people outside the Beltway don’t trust bureaucrats inside the Beltway,” Zinke said in a subsequent press release distributed to news organizations in Montana. “I can tell you that if I were secretary and this came across my desk, I would fire the lawyer who thought this was a good use of taxpayer money. Now a small business is being forced to spend half a million dollars defending itself.”

Similar trademark lawsuits have been filed against companies that have had loose associations through company, logo or name with the National Park Service or individual parks, including during Zinke’s tenure as Secretary of the Interior, a position from which he resigned in December 2018 amid ethical research. .

In 2016, the DOI filed a petition to cancel three trademarks registered with Glacier Park Inc. (GPI), now part of the Pursuit brand, a former concessionaire with lodging and businesses in and around Glacier National Park. That action at the USPTO lasted until 2019 and extended throughout Zinke’s time as Secretary of the Interior. The Appellate and Litigation Board ultimately sided with Pursuit, allowing their trademarks to remain active.

A spokesperson for Zinke did not respond to the Beacon’s questions about legal action surrounding alleged trademark violations DOI took during his time as secretary.

Asked about the Ranger Riders case, a spokesperson for the National Park Service told the Beacon that the agency could not comment on active litigation. Court records do not indicate whether Pursuit paid his attorneys’ fees.

Range Riders spokesperson Alexa Belcastro confirmed that legal fees related to the latest trademark dispute could cost the team up to $500,000, with a final hearing tentatively scheduled for 2025.

“GRR has been dealing with this for over a year now and it will be at least another year of our team’s time to defend ourselves on this matter unless the NPS stops its signature bullying practices,” Belcastro wrote in an email -mail.

The three main logos of the Glacier Range Riders baseball team.

The Range Riders announced their team name and logos in January 2022, with colors and graphics “inspired by the founding of the National Park Service … a much more rugged version of adventure that goes back to its founding years,” said Jason Klein, a partner at sports marketing firm Brandiose , the Beacon reported. “No other sports brand has used the national parks as a source of inspiration.”

Ridge Run Intangibles, Inc., owner of the team, filed trademark applications in late January 2022 for the arrowhead design, as well as for a logo featuring the grizzly bear mascot “Huck” driving a red bus; the baseball bat with the ranger hat with the mountain goat mascot ‘Cliff’; and two team logos, including one with the word “Glacier.”

None of the applications were flagged by the USPTO’s examining attorney, and all went through the trademark process.

However, in October 2022, a letter of protest was filed by the DOI indicating that there was a “potential likelihood of confusion” and a “possible false connection” between the Range Riders’ arrowhead logo and the National Park Service’s own trademarked arrowhead. The evidence provided was reviewed, but no further action was taken by the investigating attorney and the logo was released for public review in December 2022.

On June 20, 2023, attorneys from the DOI’s Office of the Solicitor filed a formal objection with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, alleging a high likelihood of confusion with the NPS, a false association with a nationally recognized symbol and dilution of the meaning of the word. NPS mark.

“The Applicant’s mark, which is closely similar to the Opponent’s Arrowhead Mark, in combination with the Applicant’s stated intent to identify with the Opponent and the Opponent’s Glacier National Park and to trade on the goodwill of the opponent, is likely to falsely suggest a connection with the federal government,” the applicant said. document.

Attorneys for the team responded to the allegations, stating that the two arrowhead logos are so different that no individual would confuse one for the other and that they are “not aware of any confusion caused by said sales.”

The team’s “customers are fans of the Glacier Range Riders baseball team and know that the goods and services provided under Applicant’s mark are associated with the baseball team and not (the National Park Service),” the document said .

Legal proceedings in the dispute are expected to continue until the end of this year, with experts due to appear at the end of June. A subpoena has been served on Brandiose Studios, the marketing agency behind the Range Riders brand.

A screenshot from the Range Riders website, advertising the arrowhead branded equipment.

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