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What's in Williams' trademark?

Large metal arches with the trademarked tagline welcome anyone who enters Williams. (Photo/Adobe stock)

Large metal arches with the trademarked tagline welcome anyone who enters Williams. (Photo/Adobe stock)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. – The City of Williams proudly calls itself the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” This iconic tagline has been a registered trademark of the city for decades.

When the tagline was first coined, Williams was the closest city to the Grand Canyon (60 miles). Tusayan, which wasn't incorporated until 2010, is located just two miles from the south entrance to Grand Canyon.

Former Williams Chamber of Commerce Director Michael Vasquez helped trademark the name "Gateway to the Grand Canyon" and said its important to police its use.

“That phrase plus Route 66 has brought so much importance to Williams as a travel destination and a travel point. In the early 80’s when there were little to no hotel rooms in the Grand Canyon,

people would stay in Williams and we would physically be the gateway to the Grand Canyon,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez has seen businesses in other cities use the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon" trademark, despite it being owned by Williams.

He said years ago someone in Flagstaff was selling rifles that read, “Flagstaff, Gateway to the Grand Canyon."

In those instances, the Williams chamber would send cease and desist letters to businesses, which would result in the products having the Williams-owned trademark removed.

The trademark has allowed the city to be the sole user of the tagline.

“It’s been re-registered in the last year from the city," Vasquez said. "They updated the documents and filled out the necessary paperwork. But you just got to be careful. People use it and they’re supposed to get permission from the city of Williams at the time. Some people aren’t doing that.

Williams businesses that use the tagline must accompany it with the registered "®" trademark. Businesses should also have permission from the city to use the slogan.

“If you use ‘Gateway to the Grand Canyon’ identifying yourself in Williams the "®" should be at the end of that phrase,” Vasquez said

Residents are encouraged to report businesses that use the tagline without the registered trademark "®" to the city.

“It should be there,” Vasquez said. “I think it’s important in keeping the recognition of Williams.”

The city of Williams enforces the use of the trademark and only Williams businesses have the right to use it. The city is responsible for ensuring businesses outside of Williams don’t use the tagline and can issue cease and desists as needed. The city also has the responsibility to enforce that Williams businesses that use the slogan follow it with the "®" trademark.

“What you’ve got to do is protect the registered trademark,” Vasquez said. “The city of Williams should be the one that’s enforcing it. But I believe that the general public should be aware of people using it out of context or out of its original intent. In other words, if you see something, it should be reported. Something should be done about it.”

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