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Judge nullifies ‘Sturgis’ trademark with regard to the rally

STURGIS, S.D. – A federal judge has issued an order this week against the trademarking of the name “Sturgis” and how it applies to the annual motorcycle rally.

Judge Jeffrey Viken has ruled the Sturgis mark is invalid. The court ruling is consistent with an 8th Circuit Court ruling earlier this year.

The court also ordered that a trademark cancellation be sent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Virginia.

Since 1996, words associated with the rally, specifically “Sturgis”, have been trademarked. The phrases “Sturgis Rally and Races” and “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally” were not trademarked but Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc., claimed ownership of them.

In 2011, SMRI tried to stop Rushmore Photo and Gifts from using the word “Sturgis” on the products it sold. It went to trial in 2015 and the jury found in favor of SMRI. But that verdict was overturned.

Now the federal district court says that those trademarks are invalid and is notifying the United States Trademark Office to cancel those trademarks.

Over the years that SMRI controlled “Sturgis,” the group says they donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of local charities. The initial impact on those charities remains to be seen.

SMRI still has the trademark for several words, such as “Sturgis Bike Week,” “The Legend Lives On,” and “Take the Ride to Sturgis.”

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