Dykes on Bikes® – US Supreme Court Allows Trademark

After a long and protracted legal battle, the Dykes on Bikes trademark ruling of the Appeals court has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

No surprises there. No doubt various cycling activities, dress and / or sexual tendencies of the club’s members are abhorrent to some, but that is hardly good reason for a legal system to disallow the trademark if those activities are legal and the mark is not actively offensive to men or heterosexuals.

Providing he was motivated by principle and not by self-publicity, I do have some sympathy with the Don Quixote lawyer from Dublin who appealed the mark.

A more interesting case would have been if a number of more modest, shy lesbian women would have objected to the mark, claiming the term dyke derogatory – which it is.

Another interesting question is whether the whole case isn’t an abuse of trademarks. You see the motorcycle club was apparently motivated by a desire to get recognition from the establishment, but not from preventing other similar clubs usng the same name. this is not what trademarks are for however.  Indeed, the public deserve the right to know whether a Dykes on Bikes ride-by is performed by the Dykes on Bikes, or simply by dikes on bikes. Then again, if the slogan is purely descriptive, why wasn’t it refused on those grounds?

These issues should be dealt with within the framework of normative trademark law and practice and not by homophobia.

For the ruling, see: McDermott vs. San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent, 07-7126.



Categories: famous marks, News, Opinion, trademarks, US

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