Wolf Trap’s Lawsuit Against a Pair of Renovated Barns Continues

Mural inside the Barns of Rose Hill

News that a foundation with a multi-million dollar budget was suing the small, but vibrant arts center located in Berryville, Va. burned a path through news and social media outlets Thursday, January 19th and sparked an outcry from residents that was heard throughout Northern Va. At issue is The Wolf Trap Foundation’s decision to sue The Barns of Rose Hill over their name. The suit claims that the use of the word “Barns” in their name infringes on their brand and does them damage. Response from citizens was swift and harsh. Comments littered Wolf Trap’s Facebook wall ranging from “Shame on you Wolf Trap” to “WOLF TRAP IS A BULLY.” The onslaught of comments continued throughout the day until the Wolf Trap Foundation released a statement just before 5:00 p.m. The full statement is posted here.

In its statement, the Wolf Trap foundation positions themselves as the victim in a trademark violation and a champion for consumers who would be easily confused stating, “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.” It further said, “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.”

They also pointed a finger at the Barns of Rose Hill for not communicating and for seeking legal counsel. The Wolf Trap statement said, “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.”

Ann Lesman, Chair of the Board of Directors for The Barns of Rose Hill responded to Wolf Trap’s statement expressing some concerns over their assertions. She characterized their attempts to resolve the situation amicably as essentially ultimatums. “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,” said Lesman.

Ms. Lesman also responded to the Wolf Trap statement,”The Barns of Rose Hill retained outside counsel, and refused to engage in any dialogue with us,” by saying, “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.”

The burgeoning public relations storm seems to have spurred a dialogue. Ms. Lesman said, “I did not receive an immediate reply, but yesterday afternoon there was a call from Terrence Jones’ secretary about scheduling a meeting.  The meeting has been set for Monday morning.”

While the situation looks dire for the small not-for-profit, fans are adamant about continuing the fight for the name that their barns have always carried.



  1. Richie Blick says:

    Yea! YEA! The fFacebook page has had over 425 “Likes” on first day and everything is 100% public. Not one comment in support of Wolf Trap’s suit. Thanks CDN for staying on top of this. Social Media these days is POWERFUL!

  2. Wolf Trap be damned. I’m glad to see everyone fighting this bully! No matter the outcome I will always refer to our barns as The Barns of Rose Hill and I’m sure everyone around here will too. Now, who else can I call or send an email to? Frank Wolf is first on my list for tomorrow.

    • Emily (et al), I do recommend you contact Frank Wolf, especially since he was out at The Barns of Rose Hill in 2005 to present a federal donation to The Barns of Rose Hill in the amount of $250,000, as stated in the archived News on http://www.barnsofrosehill.org/ (click on News, scroll to the bottom, click on Archived News, scroll to the bottom). Apparently, Mr. Wolf did not notice any similarity to Wolf Trap’s name 6 years ago, nor did he get confused and end up 50 miles away at the wrong venue.

  3. Richie Blick says:

    Can you go to Wolf Traps facebook page and copy the 40 comments from their posting of the “Statement”? I didn’t read them all but didn’t see ANY in support of Wolf Trap’s suit. AND Washing Posts Poll has 91% of 914 Votes that say DO NOT BACK DOWN!

  4. Boo wolf Trap … Booo

  5. big Wolf Trap thinks little Barns of Rose Hill is denying them revenue, just look at all the ill feeling WT is creating against itself with the suit. They’re doing much more harm to themselves than BRH could ever do to it.

    As far as I can tell, BRH serves a population of maybe at most 20K people in Clarke County and its nearby neighbors. (Probably the majority of these people, before this fiasco, had never heard of The Barns at Wolf Trap.) Now, how many of these folks do you think will lay out the bucks for a ticket and make the 50+ mile trip to Vienna after this bullying? And the few out in BRH’s territory who have patronized Wolf Trap? What are the chances that they will continue to do so, with the sour taste in their mouths due to the suit? And does anyone really think that anyone from Fairfax or Alexandria or Bethesda or Rockville or Bowie or Baltimore is going to confuse The Barns of Rose Hill with The Barns at Wolf Trap? Come on.

  6. Why does Wolf Trap refer to the location of Barns of Rose Hill as being in Northern Virginia? As someone born & raised in Clarke County I do not see our county as part of Northern Virginia. We are not part of the Metro Washington Council of Governments and have no connection to Northern Virginia except that we touch Loudoun County on our east border. Our county government needs to disassociate our county from this “part of Northern Virginia” notion. Maybe that would help a little in these type of situatuions.

  7. Great job on the social media front everyone. The comments that have been left on the Foundation Local page are awesome and they will wear them like a tattoo forever. Their Facebook page is a pr disaster and if they shut it down now they will be open to accusations of silencing legitimate criticism of there predatory litigation.

    Phase 2

    Now we need to visit Wolf Traps other Google Local listings and leave reviews there as well.
    Google “Wolf Trap Vienna Va” This is the listing for the main facility and is the one more people will see. You can go directly to the page here:


    Leave a respectful but direct review of Wolf Trap that will ensure potential patrons know what kind of foundation they are supporting.

    Also, there are more and more articles appearing as the storm builds. Post comments on every article published online. Speak up at every opportunity, respectfully. Google “Wolf Trap lawsuit” to find all of the articles.

    Start contacting Wolf Trap Board member. The list of members and associates is here:

    It contains some interesting names. If these folks start getting contacted about this matter they will not look upon it well and will want to know what is going on.

    Continue to comment on their Facebook wall. They do have the option of removing these but the act of removing them will send a message as well.

    Stay the course. They cannot ignore public sentiment and we need to break it into a broader audience so keep pushing. There needs to be clear message that this is an injustice perpetrated by deep pockets and that the little guy has rights too.

    • I will continue to support both Wolf Trap and The Barns of Rose Hill regardless of this fiasco. Both sides are making a mountain out of an anthill.

    • Though I do agree that Wolf Trap is being a complete bully, I can’t help but feel that leaving bad reviews for them, when some people haven’t even been there, would be being dishonest. Maybe I’m too goody-goody-two-shoes, though.

  8. My 2 Cents says:

    Like I saw in another publication this morning, why can’t Rose Hill just add “at Berryville” to the end of the name?? I have no dog in the fight, but it seems like an easy fix to me……

  9. We all know The Big Bad Wolf is WRONG but they (BBW) won’t back down. They have big money, big attorneys, big city mentality and big egos. They have lost touch with reality, compassion, the sense of right and wrong and what the arts is really about. The Big Bad Wolf is about money. Money, money, money the root of all evil. The general population has called for The Big Bad Wolf to back off yet their greed and egos are still override their greed and selfishness. Their huge egos are blinding them, the bullies. Do they not see what’s going on in the world? People protesting big banks and corporations? No one likes big corporations, companies and banks that feel the need to bully the little guy, exercising their power and strength over others by using the all mighty dollar as muscle. The Big Bad Wolf fits so very well… In trying to “protect” their name they have actually created a new name for themselves, a name that will not be forgotten for a very long time, “The Big Bad Wolf”

    • What exactly are you basing your accusations on? “They have big money, big attorneys, big city mentality and big egos.” Do you know Wolf Trap employees, board members, or patrons personally? Have you talked to them all or even a few of them to know what kind of people they are? “They have lost touch with reality, compassion, the sense of right and wrong and what the arts is really about. The Big Bad Wolf is about money.” Again, how do you come to this conclusion without knowing anything about who Wolf Trap is? If a person makes one mistake or does something that isn’t seen favorably, does that suddenly erase all the good they’ve done the rest of their life?
      Agree or disagree with the lawsuit but don’t make accusations about what an organization is or stands for based on one event that you’re not involved in and of which you don’t know the full details.

  10. What nonsense. If Wolf Trap is concerned that Berryville is going to eat it’s lunch they must be doing quite poorly.

  11. Richie Blick says:

    It looks like “The Barns” IS NOT a registered trademark. Wolf Trap has applied for one in October but no where can we find that anything has been approved. Here is the link. Click away – there is lots of other useful information in there. I am no lawyer and have no idea of specifics. Just passing it along as a concerned citizen protecting our town/county, the arts and our heritage! It was suggested that one can dispute it thru the trademark office, and you can contact the congress and senate. Lets keeps that pressure ON. Hundreds and hundreds of supportive comments on Wolf Trap Official Fan Page – and over 530 likes on Big Bad Wolf facebook page and posts linking lots of articles and reports. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Ftarr.uspto.gov%2Fservlet%2Ftarr%3Fregser%3Dserial%26entry%3D85442316&h=SAQF8Dq5QAQGYUHUrFmLS8QfPbgNmJJ2qi3cy7YoZvH0t0w

  12. Rose Hill Supporter says:

    I think we will welcome with open arms all those wealthy WT patrons from NoVA who will be “confused” enough to travel west to the Barns of Rose HIll and spend their money in our local businesses and enjoy the sights of our county.

  13. Bville-Bud says:

    So WT says:

    “the theater offers the same type of performing arts and education programs to the same potential customers as Wolf Trap.”

    Really??!! Have they ever been to THE BARNS OF ROSE HILL? Have they ever visited our community and met our “potential customers”??!! I’m pretty sure that a two year old would clearly see a difference, and at last check, we have not signed any major media type entertainers.

    WT you are nuttier than squirrel farts!

  14. Sharon Strickland says:

    All, can you even imagine River Dance being performed on the large stage of our wonderful Barns of Rose Hill? NOT! Wolf Trap management and legal counsel should ride out this way to see what we offer here in Berryville. As someone that loves Wolf Trap and supported the rebuilding after the fire in the early 1980’s, I am ashamed of this hoopla. They look silly! Let us all stand behind our Barns of Rose Hill, even if we have to have a name change. Having the facility is the most important benefit. My grandchildren were so enchanted with the Nutcracker reading at the holidays and I look forward to taking them again and again to be enriched. The Sugar Plum Fairy let my little ones touch her costume. That could not happen at Wolf Trap. The facility is just too large and back stage is not available to the public. Stand up for our Barns of Rose Hill!