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Yosemite’s ex-concessionaire wants details of disputed appraisal kept secret

WASHINGTON -- National Park’s former concessionaire wants a federal judge to keep secret an appraisal that set a $44 million value on the company’s trademarks.

The report is at the heart of a high-profile dispute pitting the Delaware North subsidiary against the National Park Service, which calls the privately commissioned appraisal grossly exaggerated. The report by CONSOR Intellectual Asset Management was completed in 2010.

Citing the possibility of competitive harm, attorneys for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite in new court filings are asking a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge to keep the roughly 53-page report sealed under a protective order.

“The CONSOR report is marked ‘confidential’ and is not the sort of information DNCY would normally share with the public,” company attorneys said in a court filing Monday, adding that “it contains specific confidential commercial information that competitors could use to the detriment of DNCY and its affiliates.”

Justice Department attorneys have already advised the claims court judge that they will oppose the company’s effort to keep the appraisal report secret, saying in a March 17 court filing that they disagree with the company’s arguments for a judicial protective order.

This latest litigation conflict complicates what has already morphed into a multi-front fight.

The Delaware North firm operated Yosemite’s major concessions for 22 years until Feb. 29 of this year, when it was replaced by a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Aramark. The former concessionaire wants compensation for the value of the names in the park that it had trademarked, including The Ahwahnee hotel, Curry Village and Wawona.

The company’s appraisal pegs the value of the trademarks at $44 million. The park service counters that the dollar value of the names is only $1.6 million.

The company wants the claims court to settle the dispute. The park service, in turn, wants the claims court to wait for the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which next year is scheduled to consider a government request to cancel seven of the company’s Yosemite trademarks.

All told, the company cited “thirty-five registered trademarks and several unregistered trademarks that DNCY used in its operations at Yosemite,” a number of which were purchased from its predecessor at the park. The company says Aramark should have been required to purchase the intellectual property as part of taking over the Yosemite contract.

Portions of the appraisal were included in the Justice Department’s latest legal filing, which is still not public. The report includes a detailed breakdown of the company’s operating margin and revenue by category, such as hotel rooms and food and beverage sales.

“This level of detail provides insight into how DNCY conducted its concession operations, which can be used by competitors when preparing bids for future concession contracts,” the company’s latest filing says.

Delaware North has submitted a bid for the concession contract at Sequoia National Park, and it intends to bid on future National Park Service concession contracts, the company says. The company currently manages concessions at seven national park properties.

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