The fact that it is even being debated that a private company can trademark public property shows just exactly how broken the USTPO really is. Not to sound “socialist” (I’m not, as you will see), but public property exists for the benefit of everyone and should never be subject to copyright or trademark by a private entity. As a US citizen and taxpayer, I am a stakeholder in the National Park Service and all publicly owned lands in the USA. By this circuitous logic, I should be entitled to ownership in the trademark and a payout any royalties derived from it. The point here being that while it is arguably okay for a private company to contract with the government for the rights to profit from such concessions (as much as I might like have that debate that another day), the contractor or concessionaire has no right to make public intellectual property their privately protected trademark or copyright (there’s a public domain issue here, too). Meanwhile, I think I’m going to file a trademark for the word “Congress” and see what happens….
Can a private company trademark public property? That’s the question the feds are scrambling to answer after a longtime concessionaire in Yosemite claimed rights to the names of some of the park’s most iconic locations.