Who Owns ’Pride?’: US District Judge Issues Injunction
Who owns the word "pride?"
The ongoing custody battle of sorts over "pride" appears to have shifted in favor of the plaintiff when a United States District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against a pair of New York party promoters for infringing on the trademark "NYC Pride" in marketing materials unrelated to Heritage of Pride, the local non-profit organization who claim legal rights to the name.
A press release issued by Heritage of Pride:
Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued a preliminary injunction against Matinee NYC, Voss NYC and their proprietors Brandon Voss and Jake Resnicow, barring them from using Heritage of Pride/NYC Pride’s "NYC Pride" trademarks, trade name and logo in connection with, among other things, concerts that are scheduled to take place during New York’s Pride Week, which takes place from June 22 to 29, 2014.
Heritage of Pride, which owns the rights to several NYC PRIDE trademarks, had filed suit against the defendants on June 10, 2014, alleging that their use of "NYC Pride" in connection with concerts and events that they were promoting for Pride Week infringed its trademarks and related rights.
"Although NYC Pride had hoped to resolve this matter without having to resort to legal action, we are grateful to the Court for its decision and pleased that we have been able to protect the NYC Pride trademarks during the key Pride Week period," said Chris Frederick, Managing Director of NYC Pride Since 1984, Heritage of Pride has organized New York City’s official slate of events commemorating the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which are often cited as the start of the modern gay rights movement. This year marks the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Earlier this week, the defendants in this case issued the following statement:
New York gay nightlife promoter Brandon Voss and business partner Jake Resnicow became the targets of a far-reaching lawsuit initiated by Heritage of Pride last week. Heritage, to its credit, organizes the annual Gay Pride Parade, but has now expanded its pride offerings to include an entire weekend of new dance events this year. Voss and Resnicow’s long running Pride Celebrations date back to 2009, but conveniently Heritage now claims they are the only organization able to throw such "NYC Pride" celebrations.
Voss maintains it is "absurd" that any organization should "own" Pride, especially one, which he feels, is using this as a tactic to funnel revenue to itself. Resnicow adds that, although touting itself as a non-profit and charitable organization, Heritage, by its own admission, gives only 10 percent of net income to charity. In 2012 that figure amounted to a few thousand dollars, this per an email from Heritage itself, which is included in its public court filings.
In its own trademark application, Heritage claims the date of first use of "NYC Pride" as May 2011, but the LGBT community has for decades focused and converged on New York City every June for that has come to be known as "New York City Pride." It is a weeklong series of informally connected celebratory events held in honor of the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, widely regarded as the founding moment of gay pride. Pride is a lifestyle, celebrated by many every single day, not just once a year. It is an inclusive, fluid and intangible movement,especially in its birthplace of New York City. Pride is the property of no one.
Court papers on the battle can be viewed here.