In a stunning do-si-do of a turnaround, the "beaus and belles" of The Farmall Promenade have emerged from a trademark battle with fresh financial horsepower and their identity intact.
The dispute, which once appeared destined for a courtroom, ends with former foe Case IH signed on as the corporate sponsor for the now-famous square-dancing tractor show.
The dispute began in July of 2004, when officials of Case IH sought to prevent the Promenade from using the Farmall name. The costumed performing group, which has built a reputation and captured national attention since its debut for the Nemaha Centennial in the late 1990s, could not envision giving up the identity that goes with its beautifully-restored red machines.
The manufacturer of the eight antique Farmall tractors featured in the show was International Harvester, a predecessor company to today's Case IH agricultural equipment. Case IH had recently reintroduced the Farmall name on its line of subcompact, compact and utility tractors.
"It was nearly a year-long process, but in the end we came to a positive agreement that we think will be mutually beneficial, and we are very pleased to be able to announce it," said Neal Johnson, one of the twelve founding tractor square dance performers.
What could have been an ugly and expensive trademark infringement case ends up as a firm and friendly partnership.
"The Case IH people are great to work with. Once we got to talk to someone, and were able to put a face on these trademark issues, it became rather easy," Johnson said.
Case IH, through its parent company CNH, has also granted Farmall Promenade exclusive license to the Farmall Promenade name.
The deal will apparently allow the tractor performers to use the name for as long as they wish. And since they are still having a ball, members say, the dancing isn't going to end any time soon. "We've got at least a few more years in us," Johnson says.
Indeed, the shows are already being scheduled for next summer, as far away as Nebraska, and demand is higher than ever.
The Farmall Promenade made 25 appearances last season, ending with a special trio of shows in September at the Clay County Fairgrounds to raise funds for victims of the hurricanes.
Now that Case IH is on board, the shows can expand even further on their appeal.
"Financial support from Case IH will allow us to expand our schedule of performances to include new places and new people," said Johnson.
Its new corporate partner is equally primed about the positive outcome to the dispute.
"Farmall is an important element of the Case IH tradition, both past and future," says Frank Anglin, vice president of the Case IH North American agricultural business. "We're excited to join the 'dance' and help promote the Farmall heritage in a unique way."
"The trademark dispute could have cost us out name and changed an awful lot of things," Farmall Promenade spokesperson Damon Mooney refleected Sunday. "It took some time, but we are very happy with the outcome."
Members expect that the good news could kick their Christmas party into high gear after the many months of uncertainty.
"Everybody is really happy, and the guys feel really good about the prospects of having a corporate sponsor," Johnson said.
The Farmall Promenade was born in "The Mighty Small Town" of Nemaha in 1998 during preparation for the town's centennial celebration. Twelve of the town's 120 residents brought together square dancing and antique Farmall tractors to create a performance like none other. Nemaha's gentlemen and their "lovely ladies" do actual square dances aboard eight antique tractors at a variety of fairs and events in a multi-state area.
For a complete schedule and a video of their performance, visit their Web site at www.farmallpromenade.com.
Case IH provides agricultural equipment systems for crop and livestock production, flexible financial service offerings and parts and service support through its network of professional dealers and distributors. Their tractors today range from 18-500 horsepower. Case IH is a brand of CNH, a global leader in agricultural and construction equipment and financial services. With headquarters in the United States, CNH has a network of dealers and distributors that operates in over 160 countries. For more information on Case IH visit http://www.caseih.com.
The two working together should only enhance one another's strong reputations.
"The Farmall Promenade began as a fun idea to draw more people to Nemaha's centennial," Johnson said. "it has grown to a phenomenon that has delighted hundreds of thousands of people both in the U.S. and internationally."