Six Flags St. Louis sues hotel for trademark infringement, ranked as second dirtiest

Posted Thursday, February 4, 2010 11:58 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags in Eureka, Mo., said Thursday it sued Gateway Hotels Management Inc., doing business as Days Inn Eureka Six Flags, for alleged infringement of the Six Flags trademark. The amusement park said the hotel, which was ranked last month as the second-dirtiest in the nation, uses deceptive advertising to promote itself as having an association with Six Flags.

Read more from St. Louis Business Journal.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 12:39 PM

I can't blame Six Flags for being upset. I mean as they try to clean up the parks, they don't need their name on anything "The Dirtiest"

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 1:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

This is an interesting story to me. I never thought about using a business or attraction name being a problem in a hotel name.

Pretty much every large chain hotel names itself based on location:

Hotel Name - City (example: Fairfield Inn Atlanta)

But in the case of many cities, there's more than 1 hotel of any given brand within the city so they tack on another desciptive term at the end. Usually it's an attraction they're close to or what part of town they're in or something like that:

Hotel Name - City - Additional (examples: Fairfield Inn Atlanta Airport or Fairfield Inn Atlanta Six Flags or Fairfield Inn Atlanta Buckhead or Fairfield Inn Atlanta Midtown)

It's an easy way to organize the hotels so no two have the same name and it lets guests have a better idea of where they're located.

Until I read this I never really thought about the ones using a local attraction's name that is a trademarked buisness name. Tons of big name hotels do. With a few quick google searches using various hotels names followed by Six Flags we could probably put together a huge list of hotels using the Six Flags name as a descriptive term in this way. (and other parks and chains as well)

In all my years being married to a hotel nerd, it never occured to me that using a buisness' name in this way could bite you in the ass. Apparently it's never occured to the companies that run these hotels and chains either.

I'm not sure I see how they can ask just one to remove the name when countless others use it in the same way.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010 1:26 PM
Jeff's avatar

I know Cedar Point has had to deal with this on almost a yearly basis. The Internet changed the rules, because having an attraction in your name creates link juice in search engines. It's an underhanded kind of trademark infringement. That's why, by the way, I never used "Cedar Point" in the domain names for PointBuzz and GTTP before that.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 1:41 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

When I first read the title of the thread, I amusingly got the impression that Six Flags was upset because they didn't get ranked as dirty as the hotel. :-)

I'm not sure how much you can do to deter this. Once someone puts it on the intertubes, it's pretty much there forever. Tubes are very hard to unclog.


843 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 4:10 PM

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Gonch I see your point but they're going to argue that they have to defend the brand name. Airport would be more like a service than a brand name. Apparently it was never considered an issue until it got the "dirtiest" tag which will be the defense. Expect other hotels using "Six Flags" in their title to get the cease and desist order shortly.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 5:31 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

No I agree. There's no question that it's infringement.

But...

This sort of thing has gone on for as long as I've paid attention. How can you let something slide for years and years and suddenly say it's a problem. Seemed to be a pretty accepted practice industry-wide.

There are hundreds of hotels (big name properties, not lowbrow stuff)using Six Flags in their name across the country. (the SFStL site even links to some others in the Eureka area)

Can you sue one person for something and let others do the same thing without it seeming a little off? I'm not sure how you can ask one to quit, but not others, short of making special business deals - in which case there is a degree of official affiliation.

With that said, I honestly don't get the implication that the hotel is affiliated in any way. Days Inn Eureka/Six Flags doesn't exactly lead me to believe that SF is involved in any way. One look at the hotel's information (which you would do when booking) would make it perfectly clear. (for the record, they have removed the "Six Flags" already, online at least)

Up until now it seems like this was accepted practice. It's not just Days Inn and it's not just Six Flags. It happens everywhere.

Although since I've been nosing around online a bit, it does seem that Days Inn takes some serious liberties with this. How can you not wonder about a property named Days Inn Six Flags/Ballpark/Cowboys Stadium using the URL of daysinncowboys.com? Then again, would you expect any less from a low-end chain like Days Inn?

I dunno. I get it. It's infringement. Just seems weird in the big picture to suddenly take offense now and over this.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010 5:46 PM

This is a case of "It just takes one bad apple" to get on the dirtiest hotel lists for them to care. :)

Days Inn is a super inconsistant chain, have stayed in some really nice ones but a Days Inn in Morris, IL is one of the grossest places ever experienced. On a cross country move from San Francisco to east coast, started feeling super drowsy and just wanted a clean bed and hot shower for the night. My first clue should have been when they tried to upsell me to a heart-shaped jacuzzi. or safari themed rooms.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 6:26 PM
LostKause's avatar

I'm with Gonch %100 here (which doesn't happen often). I do wonder about the part in the article that reads that the hotel, "uses deceptive advertising to promote itself as having an association with Six Flags."

Other than tacking a location onto the end of the hotels location, like so many other hotels do, is there anything else that management has been doing to make it seem that they have an affiliation with Six Flags? The article doesn't state that detail, if so.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010 6:48 PM
Jeff's avatar

If you list yourself with "Six Flags" in the name, what else do you need to do?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 7:42 PM

OMG I stayed there once! It was around midnight when I arrived in the area and I couldn't find anywhere else, it was horrible - total last resort and not that cheap either. I would never stay in a Days Inn again, it was nearly as bad as the Quality Inn, Lancaster PA and that is saying something. Only nice Days Inn I have ever stayed at was in Jacksons Hole.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010 7:55 PM
Sawblade5's avatar

I actually stayed there on one of my Six Flags Trip a few years back. (I think it was October 2002 when I went) It was a fairly nice hotel then. I guess they let it go down real bad. Such a shame. They have a pretty awesome Indoor Pool Area in there. The only problem then with the hotel was that they had a pipe break in the hallway. I wonder if they fixed that?


Chris Knight

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 9:00 PM
LostKause's avatar

I understand that, Jeff. All of the other hotels do it though, and I somehow got an idea in the article that the hotel was promoting itself as a Six Flags hotel, instead of a hotel that was near a Six Flags, and that's why Six Flags was not happy with it.

Sub-Topic creation...

I don't care about fancy when I stay at a hotel, but I do care about cleanliness. Over the last decade, I seek out Motel 6. I have never had a major problem.

I only stay about 10 hours to get some sleep and a shower anyways. Why spend a few hundred on a room for that?


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Thursday, February 4, 2010 10:25 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

LostKause said:
I only stay about 10 hours to get some sleep and a shower anyways. Why spend a few hundred on a room for that?

That's one line of thought and I wish I could find fault with it, but I can't. That's why places like Motel 6 exist.

My logic is that a hotel room is my home away from home and should be at least as comfortable as my home is...and if I'm on vacation it should be even more so.


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Friday, February 5, 2010 1:03 AM
Jeff's avatar

That's why I only stay at the five-diamond hotels in Vegas. If I'm on vacation I want people kissing my ass and comfort that I don't typically enjoy. (Though Vegas has different rules in that, these days, you can get a room like that for $150 a night.)


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, February 5, 2010 2:40 AM

LostKause said:
Sub-Topic creation...

I don't care about fancy when I stay at a hotel, but I do care about cleanliness. Over the last decade, I seek out Motel 6. I have never had a major problem.

I second your opinion of Motel 6 for a clean bed and shower for a quick overnight stay on a road trip. Super 8 has also come a long way in the past few years and most toss in a decent continental breakfast. But anything over a couple of nights I'll gladly pay extra for comfort in a 4 or 5 star to enhance quality of life while on vacation. With hotwire and googling coupon codes you can usually score some sort of deal anyway.

We have these super cheapo friends that used to tag along with us on ski trips with me and my partner. They insist on staying at the cheapest possible motel in town, eating fast food, and then complain about how gross their motel room is. We let them do that but stay seperately slopeside in a condo at the resort. It's only about $50 or $60 more a night, but we have access to hot tubs, resturaunts, bars, and always have a full kitchen to utlilize, in addition to being able to ski in ski out of our accomodations. My quality of life is much more important to me than saving a buck.

I know you can still get them at a five star place but fear of bedbugs also deters me from staying in sketchy places. Always do a check of the mattress and room before we unpack no matter where we stay. I've been bitten before at a friend's place that picked them up in a hotel and it's horrible.

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Friday, February 5, 2010 11:14 AM

I have been staying at drury hotels

I got booked at one for a work trip

free evening snacks and drinks (3 beers for me)

free breakfast (hot bar not just juice and donuts)

To bad there is not one in orlando.

Could this trademark issue be solved by an at or @

This is the same company that has Days inn maingate to universal

Have had trouble with ants,no wifi and unhelpfull and bad service.

at the orlando hotel.

Kevin38

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Friday, February 5, 2010 4:39 PM

Google hotels six flags and see what you get.

Does sixflagsmagicmountain.themeparkhotelservice.com imply a relationship with the park? At first glance of the site, you really can't tell.

The Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn and Super 8 in Eureka all contain the words Six Flags. Are they obliged to change tnow too? Making one hotel remove the title very publicly while allowing others to remain implies a relationship.

Spring Hill Suites and Fairfield Inn both contain "Arlington near Six Flags" in their titles. So is that an acceptable way to do it?

Expedia has a page listing Austell- Six Flags hotels in Atlanta, Georgia. Any chance for confusion there? There's also this page: http://hotels.sixflags.com/2198_hotel-info_h17083.html which pretty openly shows a relationship of some kind there, company logo and all. If that hotel gets named to a bad list of some kind, what does Six Flags do?

I'm sure these hotels all do this to ensure they come up near the top on an internet search. It's obvious it's a pretty widespread practice. So do the parks cherry pick which ones to take on, or should they make every hotel remove the park name from their title?

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Friday, February 5, 2010 4:48 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

LostKause said: I don't care about fancy when I stay at a hotel, but I do care about cleanliness. Over the last decade, I seek out Motel 6. I have never had a major problem.

A few years ago the chain spent millions of dollars upgrading their rooms.

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Friday, February 5, 2010 5:41 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
I'm sure these hotels all do this to ensure they come up near the top on an internet search. It's obvious it's a pretty widespread practice.

Like I said, this kind of hotel naming was a widespread practice long before anyone was considering search results. Some chains/owners/franchisees/whatever seem to have taken advantage of it for those purposes in the past few years, but the bigger chains/companies use it like I was talking about earlier.

I'm sure the SEO aspect doesn't hurt though. :)

Does sixflagsmagicmountain.themeparkhotelservice.com imply a relationship with the park? At first glance of the site, you really can't tell.

The sixflagsmagicmountain.themeparkhotelservice.com is just a personal site listing hotels near theme parks. Anyone can put up a site that lists hotels - and in this case one dude in Arizona decided to. If it implies a relationship it's the fault of the person who decided to put the site online - not any of the hotels or Six Flags.

Are people really naive enough to think there's affiliation or a business relationship there? Or book through that site? Sigh.

---

Other than that your other questions are all similar to mine. I don't see how they (Six Flags) can pick and choose which to allow to use the name and which not to without some official program of partnership.


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