‘Pride Toronto’ Seeks Trademark

The large and corporate-sponsored Pride Toronto has filed for ownership of the terms “Dyke March” and “Trans Pride.” If the trademark of these terms are granted, any smaller marches...

The large and corporate-sponsored Pride Toronto has filed for ownership of the terms “Dyke March” and “Trans Pride.” If the trademark of these terms are granted, any smaller marches in Canada could be sued for self-describing as a Dyke March or Trans Pride.

Christin Milloy explains some of the nuances of Canada’s trademark law: “ownership of these Trademarks will give Pride Toronto the legal right to take civil court action against any group or organization attempting to organize a Dyke March or Trans Pride event without Pride Toronto’s involvement. […] Civil court punishments for grassroots organizers or other Pride organizations, if they infringe on Pride Tornto’s trademarks by using the names ‘Dyke March’ or ‘Trans Pride,’ could include court injunctions ordering them to stop their activities, or even financial awards ordering them to pay large sums of money to Pride Toronto for the abuse of Pride Toronto’s ‘intellectual property.’”

With the trademarks in the “pre-formalized” stage, activists are beginning to worry about the implications that Pride Toronto’s ownership will have on smaller organizations who want to organize Dyke Marches or host Trans Pride events. By killing these small movements, Pride Toronto is ensuring that it’s own bloated festivities become the sole events of celebration, memorialization, and pushes for radical change.

Pride began as a commemoration of Stonewall, riots lead primarily by transgender women, against the police and society who criminalized their identities. Pride, now, has primarily evolved into a celebration of identities, but many still feel it can be used to bring attention to social justice issues and can be an opportunity to push for change.

Both Dyke March and Trans Pride emerged as marginalized groups, creating their own separate spaces when they felt that cisgender gay men had too much power over the direction of Pride events. Pride Toronto, which is primarily lead by men, are trying to coopt these events and suck them into the growing monolith that is their version of party-Pride.

Danni Askini of the Gender Justice League, who runs Trans Pride Seattle, said that she feels that “Pride Toronto has no claim or right to trademark [those terms].”

Furthermore, ”No one owns the terms Trans Pride, Trans* Pride, or Dyke March. They are commonly used and easily understood terms,” explained Askini. Meg Fenway, who was a Team Leader for Dyke March at Pride Toronto, put it simply: “Dykes own Dyke March, and Trans folks own Trans Pride. Period…Pride Toronto has no right to trademark them. They don’t belong to Pride.”

It’s a simple idea, really: Pride, Dyke March, and Trans Pride, all belong to LGBTQ people, not to one event or organization. It is essential that we continue to allow grassroots movements and small organizations to own their own identities, their own terminology. We do not want the mainstream Gay Pride movement to become the society we protested against back at Stonewall…or if they do, we want to reserve the right to riot again, using our own names and our own terms.

Image Courtesy of Olivia Chow, via Wikimedia Commons

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Gwen Matthews

Gwen is a writer who has an education degree, a social work background, an extensive knowledge of vegetables, and a devotion to queer revolutionary politics. She lives deep in the woods of Maine with two dogs, a magnificent partner, and an ever-growing collection of plants.