The Interior Department is moving to block a city tourism board from attaining a trademark for the “Hot Springs National Park” logo, a symbol that is used throughout the resort town and in promotional advertising.
The logo does not delineate between the national park itself and the city, and the federal agency said in a filing that the two should be kept distinct.
Part of the park lies inside the city and part of the city is located inside the park.
The Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission five years ago filed papers to trademark the board’s logo, which it started using in 1987. It features a diamond with “Hot Springs” written in it and placed over a rectangle, the bottom of which says “National Park – Arkansas.”
The Interior Department filed papers with the Patent Office just before the appeal period expired this week. The filing said the tourism board acted “in bad faith and in an attempt to perpetrate a fraud” on the Patent Office because it knew it wasn’t promoting federal services.
“Consumers are likely to be confused, mistaken and deceived into believing that the goods and services” of the tourism board are that of the park, the filing said.
Steve Arrison, Advertising and Promotion Board director, said Tuesday the park superintendent at the time gave clearance for the logo to be used. He provided an Aug. 7, 2002, letter from then-Superintendent Roger Giddings in which Giddings praised the partnership between the tourism board and the National Park Service. Giddings noted in the letter the first National Park director Stephen Mather championed the idea that the city call itself “Hot Springs National Park.”
“There is no proprietary in the words ‘Hot Springs National Park’ and you are most welcome to use them in the city’s logo,” Giddings wrote. “You may use these words.”
Arrison said that the logo appears on advertising, signs, stationery, police cars and uniforms and that the park is at the center of the city’s identity.
“We’re not going to change our logo,” Arrison said. “Why should we have to change?”
Arrison also provided an article from the Nov. 27, 1918, Arkansas Gazette, which announced the change of the city’s name to “Hot Springs National Park.” The article says the suggestion was made by the Park Service’s then-tourism director, Howard H. Hays. Arrison said the sentiment carried through the years, and he provided a 1959 letter from Hays in which he recalled “the magic of adding ‘National Park’ to Hot Springs.”
Arrison said the appeal process of the trademark challenge won’t likely run its course until the fall of 2009.
“I had a great conversation with our trademark attorney and feel very confident in our position,” Arrison said.