On the road: Elderhostel learns it must change a new name


What's in a name? That is what Elderhostel, briefly Exploritas, now Road Scholar, is asking itself. One of the nation's best-known travel and learning organizations -- and one popular in Pittsburgh -- has had to play the name game more than it wanted.

Last October, we noted with approval that Elderhostel was changing its name to Exploritas, an amalgam of the words exploration and veritas, or truth. Elderhostel did conjure up visions of an inn where gray-haired people in sensible shoes might stay, not a platform for someone to launch "adventures in lifelong learning."

Unfortunately, one of the things that its management has learned is that America is full of picky people who have access to lawyers. As Post-Gazette staff writer Sally Kalson reported Wednesday, the organization was sued for trademark infringement. A commercial tour company for high school students, Explorica, complained that the name Exploritas was too close. A jury did find the names confusingly similar and a judge granted an injunction barring use of the Exploritas name.

So now all programs around the world will be called Road Scholar, which the organization has used for some programs and has trademarked since 1992. Moreover, the Rhodes Scholarship isn't plausibly going to be confused with this and reportedly is unlikely to sue.

For the 50- and 60-somethings who are the core market of Road Scholar, the new, new name will surely smell as sweet. As for the legal adventure, it is another case of live and learn.

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