Give us a break, the City of Branson can keep the term “Dodink” but leave “Branson” alone, please!

Give us a break, the City of Branson can keep the term “Dodink” but leave “Branson” alone, please!

On Sep. 15, the attorney for the City of Branson, Paul Link, under the leadership responsibility of the City of Branson’s highest ranked unelected official, city administrator Terry Dody, sent a letter to the “Branson Sports Club, Inc., c/o Pamela Sue Dapprich, 414 Buchanan Rd., Branson, MO 65616.” In the letter Link said, “The City of Branson, Missouri owns the federally registered service mark BRANSON, MISSOURI” and that the purpose of the letter was to “protest your [her] unauthorized use [of] ‘Branson’ in connection with a business not located within the city limits of Branson, Missouri.”

Link’s letter then calls the business’s use of the common term “Branson” in its name a “deceptive trade practice” and alleges, among other things, the violation of federal statutes relating to the “false designation of geographic origin” and trademark infringement.” It goes on to say that “Within 10 days of the date of this correspondence, we expect to receive from you a written undertaking that you will formally change the name of your business to delete all references to ‘Branson.’”

But not to worry; the letter goes on to say that all can become wonderful again if Dapprich “would consent to annexation into the City of Branson when the City is ready to take you [her] in, then we would not prohibit the use of ‘Branson’ in your name.” Dapprich said that she was an outspoken opponent of the City of Branson’s recent failed attempt to force the annexation of the area that the Branson Sports Club is on into the City of Branson. She also pointed out that she had called a number of businesses with the term “Branson” in their names, located outside the city limits of the City of Branson, and that none had received a similar letter.

At about this point, to an Ole Seagull, the resulting stench is starting to grow and is eerily reminiscent of what he calls “Dodink Law.” In the instant case it’s the kind of law that appears to try to intimidate and coerce by alleging that the use of “Branson” in its name is a crime related to the “false designation of geographic origin” even while ignoring the fact that the very letter making the allegation is being mailed to a specific “Branson, MO” address.

It’s the type of law where the City of Branson can take, what it alleges is a proper service mark, “BRANSON, MISSOURI,” and say that it gives them the right to prohibit the use of the single word “Branson.” What’s next, a prohibition against a business using the word “Missouri” in their business title if they don’t meet some condition that the City of Branson establishes?

Dodink Law appears to delight in going after individual small businesses; it intimidates and coerces them to give into the demands of the city or face the alternative of fighting its unlimited resources and people, like Dody and Link, who receive their fat salaries regardless. It’s a choice that causes a lot of small businesses to give in simply because they don’t have the time or money to fight “city hall.” One can only wonder, although not for too long because of the obvious, why the City of Branson didn’t go for the maximum deterrent effect by sending letters to the City of “Branson” West and the owners of the Showboat “Branson” Belle with the same demands.

Was it because they would have probably told the City of Branson what to do with their demands? Surely the failure to do so had nothing to do with the fact that they have the resources to, not only fight them on its frivolous assertion that, based on the alleged validity of having the service mark “BRANSON, MISSOURI,” it also has the right to the term “Branson” but to challenge the validity of the City of Branson even being able to register the term “BRANSON, MISSOURI.”

Isn’t “Branson” a surname and the name of the post office that Ruben S. Branson started decades before there ever was a City of Branson? Would not most people say that the term “Branson, Missouri” is a post office address or is “primarily geographically descriptive?”

“Branson’s” biggest and longest running attraction, Silver Dollar City, is located where? Oh, and last but not least, doesn’t the fact that the City of Branson’s registration for the service mark upon which its letter is based, Registration Number 2594679, contains a disclaimer stating that, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘Branson, Missouri’…” mean, at least as to the service mark covered under that registration, that any one is free to use those phrases as is otherwise permitted?

Republished with the permission of the Branson Courier.

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