Vendors sued over alleged infringement of Sturgis trademarks

Publish Date: 
Aug 14, 2014
By Holly J. Wagner

STURGIS, S.D. – The company that holds Sturgis rally trademarks has opened another front in an old dispute with rally souvenir vendors with a new lawsuit filed in federal court in Georgia.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. (SMRI) alleges in a case filed Aug. 5 that Kent Mortimer, his present company Mortimer Enterprises, and his former business Renegade Classics, were selling unauthorized rally T-shirts in violation of SMRi’s trademarks.

Mortimer was among the more vocal vendors that opposed SMRi’s registration of the marks and licensing their use in 2010. He and current Renegade owner Troy Rowsey are named as defendants in the case, along with a couple that has a newly opened Renegade Classics outlet store franchise in Georgia.

Mortimer sold Renegade Classics to Rowsey in 2012 and now operates a franchise store in Fresno, Calif.

He said his attorney is communicating with SMRi attorneys to see if an agreement can be reached in the  new lawsuit, which accuses him of persuading Rowsey to require his licensees to buy merchandise from Mortimer. He denied that allegation.

Rowsey denied any relationship with Mortimer beyond the purchase of the Renegade Classics operation and the subsequent franchise for the Fresno store.

“He is a licensee of mine. He has his own company and still does a wholesale line of clothes. He does Sturgis apparel and sells it,” Rowsey said. “The fact that I am named in the lawsuit and that my licensee in Georgia is named in the lawsuit is wrong.”

Rowsey said the Georgia franchisees, Robert Johnson and Sandra White-Johnson, are “a small little mom-and-pop store trying to have a positive impact in the biker community in their area. I feel sorry for them that they got dragged into this.

“The licensee unknowingly bought 32 T-shirts from Kent Mortimer. This store just opened in March. They bought 32 T-shirts for $3.50 each and they were sued by SMRi,” Rowsey said. “The Buford store has admitted they bought the shirts without knowing. The shirts are boxed and not being sold.”

Mortimer is further accused of selling infringing goods alongside licensed goods at four Sturgis sites during the rally. “Defendants Mortimer and Mortimer Enterprises also have obtained and used domain name registrations in violation of Plaintiff’s rights, including registration and use of the domain name SturgisFun.com, which resolves to a website at http://www.sturgisfun.com advertising and promoting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally event, including the purchase of infringing goods from four Renegade Classics-branded stores operated by defendants Mortimer and Mortimer Enterprises during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally event,” the lawsuit states.

SMRI is seeking a court order to bar Mortimer and Renegade from selling unlicensed goods as well as monetary damages to be determined in court, including at least $100,000 per infringing website registration.

SMRI also continues to press its lawsuit in federal court in South Dakota against Rushmore Photo and Gift and its proprietors, and against Wal-Mart Stores, for their alleged unlawful and unlicensed use of the terms “Officially Licensed Sturgis” and “Sturgis Motor Classic” on souvenirs they sell. 

Read the full complaint HERE.