from the IP-over-solidarity dept
Trademarks on generic terms and phrases make for the silliest, and often the strangest, battles. In particular, I find it detestable when companies that are serving small, niche groups of people who have every reason to band together in solidarity, instead bicker unnecessarily over even the most common kinds of language. This was the case when comic conventions went to battle over the now generic term "comic-con." It's been the case when game-makers have gone after other game makers over a phrase as generic as "would you rather."
And now, for reasons I can't particularly fathom, a company out of Florida called Gay Days Inc. has forced a gay pride festival in Southern California to change its name from "Gay Days" because apparently the LGBT community doesn't have bigger fish to fry besides bickering over insanely generic trademarked terms.
Organizers for the festival over Easter weekend changed the name from Cathedral City Gay Days to Cathedral City LGBT Days after a Florida company notified the city about a trademark it owns on the phrase "gay days."On the one hand, I suppose it's kind of a nice symbolic moment in the progression this country has undergone in how we look at the civil rights of the LGBT community that rather than focusing on solidarity, there are court fights over "gay days." On the other hand: what the shit? How does the USPTO even grant a mark on such a generic term, one that, by the way, has been in use long before Gay Days Inc. used it or was granted the trademark? Cathedral City, a wonderfully progressive city, appears to be asking the same questions.
Gay Days Inc., the company behind gay parties in Orlando, Las Vegas and Orlando, said in a Jan. 12 email from company President Chris Alexander-Manley it would take all necessary steps to protect the trademark "including, but not limited to, the institution of formal legal proceedings."
The switch happened well before a major marketing push for the April 3-5 event got underway, said Chris Parman, spokesman and events manager for Cathedral City, a city that neighbors gay-friendly Palm Springs in California's Coachella Valley. The festival is set to include a bar hop, film screenings in downtown Cathedral City, a Saturday night disco party and Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. It's taking place at the same time as the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs.But, hey, this is America, after all. The land of the free to lock up language and use it against the very people who share your own interests unnecessarily. Progress of a kind, I suppose.
"To me the name ('gay days') is so generic. I don't see how on Earth anyone could have that be a trademarked phrase," Parman said. "It's no different than 'pride parade,' or 'pride' or 'gay pride.' I think if you look, all of them have tried to be trademarked at some point."