State Fair lawsuit over Aksarben Stock Show name moves forward

By: - May 26, 2022 1:45 pm

(Getty Images)

LINCOLN — The Nebraska State Fair Board’s lawsuit to protect its right to the name of Omaha’s former Aksarben Stock Show will move forward, and it could target the personal finances of three people who filed for the rights to the name after the show moved to Grand Island.

Lancaster County District Judge Darla Ideus this week rejected a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit and a second motion to move the case to another county. She ruled that all three defendants could face personal liability in the trademark infringement case.

The State Fair Board in 2021 sued Greg Harder, a former fair employee, along with Trent Loos, who announced stock shows, and his wife, Kelli Loos. The board also sued Nebraskans 4 Youth Livestock, a group that Harder and the Looses had formed.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau of Omaha and her running mate, Trent Loos of Hazard. (Courtesy of Thibodeau campaign)

Nebraskans 4 Youth Livestock had filed with the Nebraska Secretary of State for the stock show’s trade name and “AK” logo in 2020, when Harder still worked for the fair. Fair officials fired him and severed their relationship with Trent Loos. (Loos was former State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau’s running mate this spring in the GOP governor’s race.)

Loos has said he and Harder filed for the name after some State Fair board members told them they might not continue hosting the stock show as it had been run. Loos said again Thursday that they wanted to make sure the show continued.

“We simply want to make sure that the families who had the opportunity for generations to enjoy the Aksarben Stock Show still get the opportunity to be a part of the Aksarben Stock Show,” he said.

Fair officials disputed Loos’ interpretation. The State Fair Board, which ran the stock show with permission from the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, eventually obtained the rights to the stock show name and logo. They argue that Nebraskans 4 Youth Livestock has no right to either.

The judge’s order acknowledged the “likelihood of confusion” if Nebraskans 4 Youth Livestock tried to run a stock show using the Aksarben name.

State Fair Executive Director Bill Ogg said in a statement, “The court’s order confirms what everyone except Trent Loos and Greg Harder already knew: The Nebraska State Fair has valid claims against them regarding the Nebraska State Fair’s ownership of the Aksarben Stock Show and logo. …  Other than enriching their attorney, it’s a mystery what they hope to gain.”

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also spent several years as an assignment editor and worked two stints as an editorial writer. From 2005 to 2007, he served as communications director for then-Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. Aaron most recently was the lead investigative reporter for KMTV 3 in Omaha, focusing on holding public officials accountable. His work has received awards from the Associated Press, Great Plains Journalism and more.