Wolf Trap responds, but won’t back down


Pre-kindergarten students from area schools watch a performance by the Keter Betts Trio at the Barns of Wolf Trap in 2002. (Stephanie K. Kuykendal/for The Washington Post)

Here is Wolf Trap’s full statement:

As you may have heard, Wolf Trap is currently involved in a trademark dispute with the owner of a theater named ‘The Barns of Rose Hill,’ located in Berryville, Virginia.  This matter has received coverage from local media outlets, and, unfortunately, this coverage has omitted relevant information on the background of this issue, and Wolf Trap’s repeated and ongoing efforts to reach an amicable resolution with The Barns of Rose Hill.

Wolf Trap has no desire to force The Barns of Rose Hill out of business. This is strictly about trademarks, and the need to prevent consumer confusion in the marketplace.

For over thirty years, Wolf Trap has operated a theater in Vienna, Virginia under the name ‘THE BARNS AT WOLF TRAP” (which is also known simply as “THE BARNS”). As a matter of trademark law, if other performing arts theaters in northern Virginia use the name “THE BARNS,” this presents a risk of consumer confusion. In the case of The Barns of Rose Hill, the risk of consumer confusion is particularly strong because the theater is located fewer than 50 miles from the Barns at Wolf Trap, and because the theater offers the same type of performing arts and education programs to the same potential customers as Wolf Trap.

Since September, Wolf Trap has repeatedly informed The Barns of Rose Hill that it would like to settle this amicably, and avoid litigation. We emphasized that we were not requesting any monetary payment from the Barns of Rose Hill, and that our only objective is to prevent consumer confusion. Thus, we are simply asking The Barns of Rose Hill to use a trademark other than “The Barns” as the name of its theater. In order to make The Barns of Rose Hill’s transition to a new name as simple as possible, we have offered The Barns of Rose Hill a generous phase-out period to make this change. The Barns of Rose Hill retained outside counsel, and refused to engage in any dialogue with us.

Again, to be clear, Wolf Trap is not trying to prevent The Barns of Rose Hill from operating a performing arts theater in Berryville. In fact, we are excited about the addition of a new theater in northern Virginia, and we trust that the Barns of Rose Hill shares our goal of promoting and facilitating education, culture, and performing arts activities for both adults and children. 

Wolf Trap remains hopeful that the parties will be able to resolve this issue in the very near future, and we look forward to engaging in productive settlement discussions with The Barns of Rose Hill in the days ahead. 


The barns in question: The Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, opened in September by volunteers after years of fundraising. (The Barns of Rose Hill)

Some comments about their statement:  
Re: "...with the owner of a theater named ‘The Barns of Rose Hill,’..." 

The "owner" is a 401(k) non-profit board of volunteers, The Board of Directors of the Barns of Rose Hill. 

Re: “Since September, Wolf Trap has repeatedly informed The Barns of Rose Hill that it would like to settle this amicably, and avoid litigation”

They have sent letters that they would like to resolve it amicably, but the terms have been each time that we change our name. We respectfully disagreed, explaining the century-long history of our name.

Re: “The Barns of Rose Hill retained outside counsel, and refused to engage in any dialogue with us.”

We did engage counsel, trademark attorney William Eshelman. The letters from Wolf Trap came to us from their attorneys, Arent Fox. Since I have no legal training, we felt that we needed to have an attorney to communicate with their attorneys. I thought that the exchange of letters between the attorneys, Arent Fox and Wm. Eshelman constituted dialogue. Nevertheless when the communication between the attorneys did not accomplish its hoped-for goal of allowing us to retain our name, I wrote personally to Gary Tabach, Chair of the Board and Terrence Jones, CEO/President, asking to meet personally with them to see what we could do to satisfy Wolf Trap. I did not receive an immediate reply, but yesterday [Wednesday] afternoon there was a call from Terrence Jones' secretary about scheduling a meeting. The meeting has been set for Monday morning.

Re: "...we trust that the Barns of Rose Hill shares our goal of promoting and facilitating education, culture, and performing arts activities for both adults and children. "

That is indeed our goal.

Re: "Wolf Trap remains hopeful that the parties will be able to resolve this issue in the very near future, and we look forward to engaging in productive settlement discussions with The Barns of Rose Hill in the days ahead."

You have no idea how fervently I wish the same thing!

Ann

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Should Wolf Trap drop its suit against The Barns of Rose Hill? Vote here in our State of NoVa poll.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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