A US federal appeals court has ruled that the name “Dykes on Bikes” is inoffensive and a legitimate trademark, tossing out a lawsuit from a man who claimed the name was “scandalous and immoral.”
According to the Associated Press, the Dykes on Bikes motorcycle club, which leads San Francisco’s annual gay pride parade, had spent years sparring with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in hopes of protecting the phrase.
They finally won a trademark in 2005. The office had twice rejected the group’s application, saying that “dyke” is a vulgar term.
Michael McDermott, a lawyer from Dublin, California, sued after the USPTO granted approval, calling the name “disparaging to men” and “scandalous and immoral.”
In the ruling, issued last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that McDermott had no legal grounds to be offended.
“We had no idea it would take this long,” Dykes on Bikes President Vick Germany told the AP.
“I think it took on a bigger meaning than when we first started. … This is not just a victory for us but for the community as a whole.”
Brooke Oliver, part of the legal team that defended the group free of charge, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the decision had implications far beyond the lesbian community.
“From a trademark law perspective it’s an important decision because it means … one person totally unrelated to a trademark or the use of a trademark can’t stand in the way,” she said.
“A lot of times when one group expresses its civil rights, others tend to feel it takes something away from them. It doesn’t. It’s an expression of pride.”
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