- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A jury award of $912,500 to a nonprofit group that holds Sturgis motorcycle rally trademarks will be appealed, a Rapid City businessman says.

A federal jury in Rapid City on Friday decided the four-year-old case that pitted Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. against Rushmore Photo and Gifts and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

“We absolutely will appeal,” Paul Neimann, who owns the gift and photo shop with his wife and son, told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1Q1LqCG ). Niemann said trademark law is complicated and the jurors “may have been out of their depth.”

The organization has contended that the trademark helps pay for the annual motorcycle rally and is a necessary protection so the city can make money. The defendants maintained that Sturgis is geographically descriptive and shouldn’t be trademarked.

The plaintiffs had been seeking up to $7 million in damages for sales of allegedly unlicensed products. Jurors decided that Wal-Mart owed $235,000 in damages, while the Rapid City business and its owners were responsible for the balance.

The nonprofit calls itself the official steward of the Sturgis brand. It issues licensing agreements for the trademarks “Sturgis,” ”Sturgis Motorcycle Rally,” ”Sturgis Rally & Races,” ”Take the Ride to Sturgis” and “Sturgis Bike Week.”

Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said the verdict was a victory for the community and the many charities that benefit from the trademark. For the past four years, the nonprofit has donated $50,000 to Sturgis Rally Charities Inc., which in turn makes grants to local nonprofits that include an art council, food pantry and women’s shelter, he said.

“This verdict means the rally will continue to give a substantial return to the community for years to come,” Ainslie said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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