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Judge Issues Injunction Against NYC Party Promoter for Infringing on 'NYC Pride' Trademark

Voss

A federal judge has issued an injunction against a New York City party promoter (above) who was using 'NYC Pride' to promote parties unrelated to official Heritage of Pride events during the upcoming LGBT Pride weekend.

NycprideVia press release:

Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued a preliminary injunction against Matinee NYC, Voss NYC and their proprietors Brandon Voss and Jake Resnicow, barring them from using Heritage of Pride/NYC Pride’s “NYC Pride” trademarks, trade name and logo in connection with, among other things, concerts that are scheduled to take place during New York’s Pride Week, which takes place from June 22 to 29, 2014.

Heritage of Pride, which owns the rights to several NYC PRIDE trademarks, had filed suit against the defendants on June 10, 2014, alleging that their use of “NYC Pride” in connection with concerts and events that they were promoting for Pride Week infringed its trademarks and related rights.

“Although NYC Pride had hoped to resolve this matter without having to resort to legal action, we are grateful to the Court for its decision and pleased that we have been able to protect the NYC Pride trademarks during the key Pride Week period,” said Chris Frederick, Managing Director of NYC Pride Since 1984, Heritage of Pride has organized New York City’s official slate of events commemorating the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which are often cited as the start of the modern gay rights movement. This year marks the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

UPDATE: Promoter Brandon Voss sent out a press release responding to the ruling.

“It is absurd that any organization should own the word Pride used next to the name of our city,” argues Brandon Voss, who has been organizing his own Pride celebrations in New York since 2009. “Especially one that is using this as a tactic to funnel revenue to itself by demanding fees for the right to call themselves ‘official’ events.”

“The facts are that while Heritage of Pride touts itself as a non-profit and charitable organization, it has publicly admitted that it gives only 10% of net income to charity. Per public court filings, that amounted to only a few thousand dollars in 2012.”

This year, Heritage of Pride expanded its event offerings to include an entire weekend of new dance events including a new Saturday event designed to compete with the long-running Saturday night party slate promoted by Voss and Jake Resnicow. In a court hearing, Heritage of Pride’s Chris Frederick admitted under oath that such competition was what prompted this lawsuit.

The LGBT community has celebrated “New York City Pride” every June since 1970, in honor of the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, widely regarded as the start of the gay pride movement. In its trademark application, Heritage of Pride claims a date of first use for its supposed “NYC Pride” trademark of May 2011. Despite this, the judge’s order – which is only preliminary – declared that only Heritage of Pride had the right to use the term.

But as Voss notes, “Pride is an inclusive, fluid and intangible movement, especially in its birthplace of New York City. Pride is for everyone and is the property of no one.”

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Comments

  1. Now if HOPNYC could go after all the unlicensed vendors selling rainbow crap all up and down the parade route.

    Pride ain't a "free party" it's gotta be paid for...and these opportunists, like the vendors and Voss & Co are scum.

    Posted by: Qj201 | Jun 20, 2014 10:34:07 AM


  2. 'Pride ain't a "free party"'

    It should be. It started out that way.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 20, 2014 10:45:10 AM


  3. The fact that a company can basically own the phrase "NYC pride" is an insult to those brothers and sisters who've fought freely all these decades for our freedoms. What's the price of a Stonewall brick? Are we seriously to believe that "pride" consumers choose their events based on whether they benefit HOP or not? Hardly. Are these promoters any more opportunistic than HOP? Nope. And they don't try to lock down and monopolize on an event that belongs to everyone, regardless of ridiculous trademarks. I find HOP very off-putting. Their behavior in this instance doesn't make me feel proud at all.

    Posted by: Action Jackson | Jun 20, 2014 11:05:50 AM


  4. So... They said "New York Pride" on their promotions for an event occurring during New York Pride and that's a violation of a trademark? I've always associated Pride with events like St. Patricks Day or Valentines Day. Could an organization in New York or any other city trademark "New York St. Patricks Day"? This seems ridiculous.

    I get they need to make money, but this doesn't seem to be the right way to do it. The celebration belongs to everyone, not just the organizers of the parade.

    Posted by: Arkansassy | Jun 20, 2014 11:42:14 AM


  5. NYC Pride has expanded beyond just a march of ppl holding signs. There's planned events all weeks that aren't free. HOP is a non-profit that needs the revenue to keep these events running. Profiting off of NYC pride the real insult which is exactly what Matinee was trying to do.

    Posted by: Not that rob | Jun 20, 2014 11:42:56 AM


  6. NYC Pride has expanded beyond just a march of ppl holding signs. There's planned events all weeks that aren't free. HOP is a non-profit that needs the revenue to keep these events running. Profiting off of NYC pride the real insult which is exactly what Matinee was trying to do.

    Posted by: Not that rob | Jun 20, 2014 11:42:57 AM


  7. NYC Pride has expanded beyond just a march of ppl holding signs. There's planned events all weeks that aren't free. HOP is a non-profit that needs the revenue to keep these events running. Profiting off of NYC pride the real insult which is exactly what Matinee was trying to do.

    Posted by: Not that rob | Jun 20, 2014 11:42:57 AM


  8. Pride is a movement and a concept. It is not a privately owned trademark. NYC Pride is a business. They have no right to hijack the word.

    Posted by: MaryM | Jun 20, 2014 12:00:17 PM


  9. I think a lot of people are missing the point here -- the issue isn't exactly use of the words "NYC Pride," it's the fact that Voss' event was being promoted as the "New York Pride Main Event," which definitely implies it is an official event sponsored by the Heritage of Pride organization.

    Voss and Matinee could have marketed their event in any number of ways that made it clear that it was occurring during NYC's pride celebrations, but wasn't a HOP sanctioned activity. They did not, so HOP's actions are reasonable.

    Posted by: D.B. | Jun 20, 2014 2:05:15 PM


  10. huh? I agree, I don't see how they can own "New York Pride" as a word - it's a celebration and seems harmless for someone to throw a party using the same words. As long as they don't call it the "official" party or whatever.

    Posted by: reality | Jun 20, 2014 3:00:19 PM


  11. Who cares if it's Heritage party or not . The same party happens in every bar and club . It's the occasion !

    Posted by: Vinny Andrade | Jun 20, 2014 7:46:27 PM


  12. @reality It does say it's [the] "New York Pride main event" which would certainly cause many people to believe that it is the "official party."

    Posted by: Neil | Jun 20, 2014 11:33:30 PM


  13. In the spirit of Gay Pride, it's unfortunate that Heritage of Pride, Brandon Voss and Matinee were not able to resolve their issues. Now that it has become public here are some thoughts:

    Regarding the small amount of grant money mentioned by Brandon Voss, Heritage of Pride is not a grant giving organization. Think of non-profit hospitals, churches, etc-- most of the money raised by Heritage of Pride goes to put together the Pride Parade, the events on the Pier, and other smaller events. Heritage of Pride has only one full time employee; the rest are volunteers. Organizing the Sunday parade, Friday Rally on the Pier, and Sunday Pier Dance costs lots of money -- the first two events are free to participants. The beneficiaries are the tens of thousands of people, including LGBT youth (that cannot go to bars and clubs), who can participate in a LGBT community event and feel proud.

    As for the intellectual property issue, Heritage of Pride has grown the organization by enlisting Sponsors and Promotional Partners -- all under the umbrella of NYC Pride logo. The name and logo has promotional value that helps raise the money -- why else would Brandon Voss and Matinee use it, especially after receiving a cease and desist letter. Other venues and promoters have either 1) become a partner of Heritage of Pride, or 2) refrained from using their intellectual property. Heritage of Pride doesn't extort people for fees, it leverages its intellectual property rights to recruit sponsors and promotional partners. No one is obligated to pay any fee; they just can't use the likeness of the name and logo to promote their own for-profit events. That is standard business practice .

    As for "who owns Pride", who owns Apple? Everyone eats apples, but when it comes to certain products like iPhones, the Apple Corporation clearly "owns" Apple. NYC Pride is a registered trademark under US Trademark Law that grants certain exclusive rights associated with the name and logo. A Federal Judge thus far has enforced those rights. That doesn't preclude a Papa Party event the same weekend. Junior Vasquez is having an event Sunday night at BPM, but not under the label of Official Pride Event -- Junior Vasquez uses his own talents and reputation for the event. On Friday night, BPM is hosting an Official Pride Event respecting the Heritage of Pride and its mission. Anyone, including Brandon Voss and Matinee are welcome to have a party the same weekend. The issue is when Matinee and Brandon Voss use the exclusive intellectual property rights and all the goodwill and promotional value of NYC Pride to entice people to their own events. Are they so desperate?

    Finally, the point of Gay Pride is to have a time for our community and supporters to come together and celebrate -- to march in the parade, to feel like we belong, to feel proud; and also to party. We should be grateful to have the Heritage of Pride organization that makes this all possible no matter how much money anyone has or doesn't have. We should all support the Heritage of Pride for what they have done for the LGBT community. Support can come in many different ways -- from sponsorships, to attending Official Events, or just marching in the parade. If someone doesn't want to support NYC Pride, fine, but don't use what all the volunteers, participants, donors, and sponsors have created for your own money making machine.

    Posted by: Mati Weiderpass | Jun 21, 2014 3:08:03 AM


  14. I'm so glad that judge made this ruling. If anyone had been to matinee Las Vegas which was promoted by jake resnicow know that party was def a ripped off. The breakfast they served at host hotel... RIDICULOUS. They are trying to take advantage of HOP and tried to profit off the weekend. Come on. If HOP really only donate 10%... How much has Voss donated for the past few years? And just so we are clear. This past few years their pride celebrations had all been flops. It's that peter rauhofer's WORK party is now gone and they are trying to seize the chance.

    Seriously Voss, you have been struggling in promoting the past few years. Time for a career change. And jake resnicow, stop giving matinee a bad name. You're nowhere like matinee Europe. So spare ally. STOP

    Posted by: H | Jun 21, 2014 7:32:59 AM


  15. They have two parties under the "Supreme" brand for Pride weekend. The Saturday Supreme Event has a subtitle "New York Pride Main Event" and the Sunday a subtitle "New York Pride Closing Party". They were just describing their own Supreme parties. I dont think any of these little details matter, what matters is Heritage of Pride and Chris Frederick are telling gay New Yorkers (promoters or otherwise) that they can't say "New York Pride". Thats wrong and disgusting no matter how you slice it.

    Posted by: Matthew Downs | Jun 21, 2014 12:01:17 PM


  16. Heritage of Pride, and other Pride organizations around NA and Europe, are mainly volunteer-led groups creating a big, mostly free festival and parade that takes hours and hours of typically thankless work. They get sponsors to help fund the festival so the bulk of it can be free to attendees. If a bar or party promoter wants to create a competing event, they take money away from the bar revenue and/or ticket prices from official Pride events, which help pay for the festival. They collect all the money thanks to the hard work of Pride organizers and give zero back to them or their community. They are looking to make an easy buck off of the work of others, and Voss clearly promoted the event to mislead the community into thinking it was an official Pride event, when it wasn't. THAT'S why they lost the lawsuit. It's a clear open and shut case of fraud.

    I am totally on the side of Heritage of Pride. If all their hard work goes to waste because opportunists hijack the Pride brand and they lose money and/or become bankrupt, who is going to organize and pay for the parade? That sh!& ain't free, folks. It's costs a ton of money to close the streets, re-route bus routes, pay for police and security. Is Voss going to chip in and pay for that? No, he just wants Pride to do all the work and pay allthe bills and then make an easy buck off them. It's not about owning the word "Pride". It's about protecting your hard work and making sure you can pay the bills that make the festival itself happen. Duh!

    Posted by: graphicjack | Jun 21, 2014 3:07:43 PM


  17. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!! NYC Pride belongs to everybody, not Chris Frederick and Heritage of Pride. They hide under being this charitable “non-profit” organization but this is all about profit. By Heritage’s own admission, a few thousand dollars goes to Charity and the rest goes to producing their events and the large salary Chris Frederick draws. How exactly is that any different from Brandon and Jake’s business? Who decided Heritage of Pride should be the only organization that can throw pride parties? What makes their event more "official" then anybody elses? This looks horrible on them. Shame.

    Posted by: Claudia | Jun 21, 2014 5:36:21 PM


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