The National Park Service has long complained that the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas advertises its existence and amenities in ways that do not clearly distinguish the city of Hot Springs from Hot Springs National Park. To eliminate any potential source of confusion, the Park Service wants the city to stop advertising itself as Hot Springs National Park. The city disagrees that its advertising tactics are confusing, and insists that the Park Service is being too touchy on this issue.
Things heated up earlier this year. In May, the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission lost its appeal of a court order and grudgingly took down a "Hot Springs National Park" city flag that had been flying at Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The Park Service also demanded that maps distributed at the Mountain Tower include a disclaimer that the businesses named on the map are not endorsed by the National Park Service or Hot Springs National Park.
The Park Service complaint has ended up in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is currently reviewing whether the city’s use of “Hot Springs National Park” in its logo is a trademark violation. City officials are nervous, fearing that an adverse ruling might seriously damage the city’s tourism industry and cause a loss of jobs and tax revenues at a particularly critical time. Like other cities throughout America, Hot Springs has suffered in the current economic recession.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited Hot Springs on Thursday to discuss the issue with shareholders and consider what might be done to find a solution that everyone can live with. Speaking to local residents and reporters, Salazar said he’s confident that a reasonable compromise can be reached, provided that the National Park brand is protected. He pointed out by way of example that nobody would want to see a “Hot Springs National Park massage parlor.”
Salazar stressed the importance of working out a solution that respects the city’s long-standing relationship with the national park and minimizes negative impacts on its tourism industry.