Use words associated with Laconia Bike Week on a product you're selling & you must now pay fee to rally promoters

LACONIA — This year, for the first time, "Laconia Motorcycle Week" became a registered trademark, conferring exclusive rights to prevent the unauthorized use of the trademark on its owner, the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association.

Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the association, said that he was moved to register the trademark by the experience of Sturgis, South Dakota and Daytona, Florida, which host the other two largest U.S. rallies. After trademarking its event, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. gained exclusive rights to "Sturgis" and "Black Hills" was ultimately able to prevent the Chamber of Commerce in Sturgis, Kentucky from using the phrase "Little Sturgis Rally and Races for Charity". After a private company sought to register "Daytona Bike Week," the Chamber of Commerce only prevailed in protecting the identity its rally it had taken since the 1930s after lengthy, costly litigation. "We didn't want to go through anything like that," St. Clair said.

At the same time, St. Clair noted that while the local rally traces its origin to 1916, the event would not be what it has become without the efforts of the association, for the registered trademark represents an asset.

By registered the phrase "Laconia Motorcycle Week," along with "Laconia Bike Week," "Laconia Motorcycle Rally" and other similar phrases, as a trademark, the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association is entitled to license its use of those words on products and services. St. Clair said that some Rally Patrons, who pay $200 for the designation, are exempt from the licensing fee. The fee for wholesalers is $500 while the fees for retailers at the rally are $500 for one booth, $800 for two booths and $2,000 for three or more booths. Authorized products — T-shirts, patches, pins and the like — may be designated "licensed by the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association."

The fees collected by the association are over and above fees vendors must pay the city to set up shop in the city during Bike Week.

The association, St. Clair explained, retains 70-percent of the revenue from licensing the trademark. Good Sports, Inc. of Manchester, Connecticut, whose subsidiary Hot Leathers is a major sponsor of the rally, receives 30-percent and in return assumes the responsibility of defending infringements of the trademark. St. Clair said that the revenue from licensing fees from this year's rally have yet to be tallied.

St. Clair said that the association is also entitled to withhold the use of its trademark from products it deems in appropriate. "We obviously don't want the rally associated with images obscene images or offensive messages," he said, "or anything else that is in bad taste or would cast the event in bad light."