Los Angeles – On May 23rd, a federal judge ruled that The Little Sturgis Rally in Sturgis, Kentucky “is immediately, permanently, and perpetually restrained” from using any reference to Sturgis Rally when promoting its motorcycle event held annually to raise money for charity. The ruling was part of a settlement in a trademark infringement lawsuit brought on by Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc.
According to the ruling handed down by federal judge Jeffrey Viken of Rapid City, SD, the Kentucky non-profit motorcycle group violated trademark laws and will therefore have to pay the South Dakota group unspecified damages. As a result of the judgment, the July 2011 rally in Kentucky has been cancelled.
Dean Kinney, chairman of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. stated: “I think it’s important for not only Sturgis but for all of Black Hills, because if we as a community and an event allow other events around the United States to play off of the theme of this one, it could have a negative economic impact on us”. “One of the key things is that we have to protect the trademark in order to keep it, so we couldn’t allow this event to violate our trademark rights.”
The trademark infringement law suit was filed in 2008 against the organizers of the Little Sturgis Rally and Races for Charity by the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, the lawsuit was taken over by Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. after it acquired the trademark rights from the chamber. The Kentucky group attempted to register “Little Sturgis Rally” as a trademark which was opposed and ultimately abandoned.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country, will celebrate its 71st anniversary this August.