Soon after its formation, SMRI began notifying rally vendors that they would be required to obtain license agreements to sell anything from T-shirts to motorcycle accessories in connection with the rally if they used either the terms Sturgis or Black Hills. Many suppliers and vendors bristled; others complied.
RPG challenged the mark registration. It asked the Patent and Trademark Office to find that SMRI is not entitled to trademark rights for the terms Sturgis or Black Hills, that SMRI's marks were fraudulently obtained, that the terms are primarily geographically descriptive, and that they lack the “secondary meaning” USPTO would require to register a place name as a trademark.
SMRI subsequently sued RPG -- which makes its own rally design apparel and had for years supplied rally goods to other vendors, including Walmart -- for allegedly infringing the trademark. Opponents to the mark founded Concerned Citizens for Sturgis (CCFS). Walmart joined RPG’s side of the case later.
Both sides have until March 25 to contest the recommendation. If there are no objections, it will go to Viken for further action.