Pride Toronto attempting to trademark "Dyke March"
Pride Toronto Attempting To Trademark “Dyke March”

The phrase “Dyke March” has been commonly used by radical, fiercely independent, grassroots organizations in Canada and abroad for decades.

The Vancouver Dyke March and Festival, the second largest in Canada, were stunned to discover that Pride Toronto took the unprecedented step of applying for trademark protection for the term “Dyke March” on July 8th, 2015.

Pride Toronto is not a grassroots organization – and given that they are not staffed and/or run primarily by female identified persons, the Vancouver Dyke March (VDM) strongly believe that this move is appropriative – and that Pride Toronto do not have any ethical or moral right/claim to the words “Dyke March”.

Moreover, while the first Dyke March in Toronto was organized in 1996, Vancouver was the first city in North America to have lesbians openly march in the streets as a form of protest. This occurred in the May of 1981 – a full 15 years before Toronto.

Pride Toronto has a previous history of quietly trademarking generic terms and then using their trademark to generate revenue and eliminate independent competition. After they registered the “Pride” mark, it was reported that they approached vendors – many of whom had been producing pride merchandise for years (some as long as Pride Toronto had been) and shut down sales.

To be clear, Pride Toronto could have simply sought trademark protection for a more specific mark, but chose not to.

Due to their previous behaviour, the lack of press releases or any communication with VDM on this matter, VDM is forced to conclude that Toronto Pride’s actions are a willful and overtly hostile attempt to demand licensing fees and impose conditions on Dyke Marches and other LGBTQIA organizations around the continent in exchange for the “privilege” of selling merchandise with these words on them.

Additionally, it can be concluded that Pride Toronto is eager to enforce this mark online, ripping away web domains and twitter handles from organizations that have used them for years.

Unless Pride Toronto immediately withdraws this application and issues a public apology, VDM will pursue all available options to protect their identity and fight this undermining of all Dyke Marches – and are preparing to start a proceeding with the Trademarks Opposition Board.

As there is no trademark for “Dyke March” in the USA (or globally), VDM is encouraging dyke marches in the USA to coordinate with each other and aggressively look into legal options to protect themselves.