Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Revealing trademark applications
Trademark applications by the Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. indicate that by August 2009 there may have been a desire to turn Neverland into a turist attraction of some sort, but apparently the trademarks were abandoned shortly thereafter, seemingly following a quick change of plans, which may or may not have had something to do with the many local protests at the time.
Here's an article from the Santa Ynez Valley Journal from September, 2009:
TRADEMARK OF NEVERLAND RANCH ABANDONED BY ITS CURRENT OWNER
By Lauren Crecelius, Staff Writer
Despite repeated assurances that Neverland Ranch would not become an attraction, Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. LLP, the entity that owns the property, applied for and later abandoned trademarks on the name Neverland.
A record list display from the United States Patent and Trademark Office website shows that Sycamore Valley Ranch applied for trademarks on the terms “Neverland,” “Neverland Ranch,” “Neverland Valley,” and “Neverland Valley Ranch” on Aug. 12, well after it promised no commercial development on the site. There were 20 forms of trademark use of the Neverland terms, but all were abandoned on Sept. 8.
“It is very disappointing that they continue to offer words that are comforting, and then take actions which are not,” said Never! member Bob Field in an email. “It does not help that when asked about the actions, they say ‘No comment,’ We think the community deserves better.”
Since Michael Jackson’s death in June, some Valley citizens have been concerned about what Barrack will do with the property. The idea of a “Graceland West” concerned some of them enough to form the community action group Never! “ … with the sole mission of opposing any attempt to convert Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch into a commercial venue or Graceland-like tourist attraction.”
Goods and services descriptions of the terms included in the trademark applications included entertainment services, providing facilitates for business meetings and conferences, games and play things, clothing, footwear, headgear and printed matter. Each description presented examples of various uses.
Under entertainment services, the description read: “ … museum services — namely, operating a museum in Michael Jackson’s former home and providing tours thereof; providing theme park services; entertainment services, namely, live shows and events; tennis and golf resort services; recreation and sporting club services; organization of meetings and conferences.”
The goods and services described for games and play things included, “ … namely, plush toys, paper dolls, dolls and accessories, toy action figures, toy vehicles, toy cars, toy trucks, toy bucket and shovel sets, roller skates, toy model hobbycraft kits, toy rockets, wind-up toys, toy guns, toy holsters, musical toys, jigsaw puzzles, badminton sets, bubble making wand and solution sets, toy banks, puppets, toy balloons, yo-yo’s, kites, baseball bats, balls of all kind; play wands, board games, playing cards, and children’s games to play during travel; ornaments, and decorations for a Christmas tree; sporting goods.”
Cynthia Lynch, administrator for trademark policy and procedure, said these trademarks were expressly abandoned by the applicant, though there are still some live applications for Neverland-related trademarks by other companies.
The applications by Sycamore Valley Ranch are dead, Lynch said, and they cannot become live again. It is a closed issue. She said an entity does have some common law rights to a term if they use it, but there are further benefits of federal trademark status.
“You get some additional benefits and legal presumptions from federal registration,” Lynch said.
Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital, held some special meetings for prominent county and Valley officials and leaders July 9 and 10, in which he promised the property would not be turned into any type of attraction. Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. then submitted applications for trademarks in August.
Though Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. is a partnership involving Colony Capital, both entities share the same address in Los Angeles. Lisa Baker, a member of Owen Blicksilver, the PR firm representing Colony, said Colony had no comment on the trademark attempts."
And here's an article from the Examiner, which sheds more light on the events leading up to the trademark applications:
Neverland Ranch owner wanted trademarks
for Michael Jackson museum, souvenirs
By William Etling, Santa Barbara County Buzz Examiner
Headfake: Just a month after Colony Capital's Tom Barrack held two days of lavish parties and tours to tell locals he had no plans to make Neverland a West Coast Graceland, lawyers for one of his companies filed 20 trademark applications for the names Neverland Ranch, Neverland Valley, Neverland Valley Ranch, and Neverland, asking the US Patent Office to protect their rights to "operating a museum in Michael Jackson's former home and providing tours thereof," among a laundry list of items.
The parties were July 9-10. On August 12, the current Neverland owners filed to protect the following:
"Entertainment services; museum services- namely, operating a museum in Michael Jackson's former home and providing tours thereof; providing theme park services; entertainment services, namely, live shows and events; tennis and golf resort services; recreation and sporting club services; organization of meetings and conferences;"
"Providing facilities for business meetings and conferences; retail and online retail store services; mail order catalog services in the field of novelty, gift, and souvenir items;"
"Clothing, footwear, headgear;"
"Printed matter, namely, post cards, holiday/greeting cards, art prints, art reproductions, bumper stickers, stickers, decals, tissue/giftwrap, printed tickets, posters, wall calendars, flags and pennants of paper, printed and paper emblems, brochures, catalogs, and merchandise bags; books, namely, non-fiction books about Michael Jackson, activity books, address books, appointment books, coloring books, picture books, and comic books; paper and paper articles, namely, photographs, stationery, memo pads, notebooks, envelopes; pencil sharpeners, pen and pencil cases and boxes, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, paper weights, staplers; binders, notebooks, stationery consisting of writing paper and envelopes, memo pads, writing tablets; paper table cloths, paper napkins, paper coasters, and paper mats; money clips;"
"Games and playthings, namely, plush toys, paper dolls, dolls and accessories, toy action figures, toy vehicles, toy cars, toy trucks, toy bucket and shovel sets, roller skates, toy model hobbycraft kits, toy rockets, wind-up toys, toy guns, toy holsters, musical toys, jigsaw puzzles, badminton sets, bubble making wand and solution sets, toy banks, puppets, toy balloons, yo-yo's, kites, baseball bats, balls of all kind; play wands, board games, playing cards, and children's games to play during travel; ornaments, and decorations for a Christmas tree; sporting goods."
The request was hurriedly abandoned September 8 after the story leaked and Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson told the media, "Colony Capital cannot do this without our permission."
Colony Capital opened what they now call Sycamore Valley Ranch’s doors to a select group of influential Santa Ynez Valley movers and shakers for four separate events on July 9 and 10.
Visitors parked at the Figueroa Mountain Road gates and rode into the sprawling 2,676 acre ranch on jolly red trolleys for brunch or dinner. After the July 9 dinner spread of pork and cajun sausage, watermelon, and tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, complemented by Barrack’s own fine wines from his Happy Canyon vineyard nearby, Barrack himself assured the chosen few that there were no plans to bury Michael Jackson there, or make the place a museum devoted to the former King of Pop.
“Then why don’t you just announce that, and we can get back our peace and quiet,” asked Dorothy Alter, whose family has raised cattle on their Rancho Cielo up on Figueroa Mountain for decades. “It was a tour of the whole thing,” Dorothy Alter said in an exclusive interview July 10. “They had two trolleys from Santa Barbara. He had a young man that stood up like a tour guide and went all through it. Then he served us dinner, a really nice dinner. I don’t know how many people were there, a hundred maybe.”
Just over a month later, on August 12, Barrack's company filed 20 trademark applications, including these, found on the US Patent Office website: www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm