Two of New York City’s most influential event organizers are asking “Who owns the words NYC Pride?” this week after a New York judge awarded exclusive ownership of the words “NYC Pride” to Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that plans “official” New York Pride Week events.
According to court documents obtained by Queerty, Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction against Matinee NYC (the week’s largest outdoor event) and the event organizers at Voss NYC, effectively barring them from using the words “NYC Pride” or any similar combination of words on advertising materials or event invitations.
Heritage of Pride believes they own exclusive rights to use the words “NYC Pride” and filed a lawsuit when Voss NYC began promoting Matinee as happening during the week of “NYC Pride.”
In the original lawsuit filed in a Manhattan court June 10, Heritage of Pride claimed it owned “the rights to several NYC Pride trademarks” and alleged that Matinee’s “use of ‘NYC Pride’ in connection with concerts and events that they were promoting for Pride Week infringed on its trademarks and related rights.”
Aside from having to distance themselves from the likeness of “NYC Pride”, Voss NYC may also not use the terms “NY Pride” or “NYC Pride” in email correspondence, urls, signs, videos, or newsletters. They were also forced to pull all future advertisements that included the words “NYC Pride”.
It’s worth noting that the original Matinee advertising materials did not include the official Heritage of Pride “NYC Pride” logo, but did use the phrase “NYC Pride” to indicate a reason for the celebration.
This is also not the first year Heritage of Pride and Matinee have been at each other’s throats — according to sources working closely with both organizations, Heritage of Pride has made multiple attempts to sanction the Matinee party as an “official” Pride Week event. Jake Resnicow and Brandon Voss, the famed party promoters who run Matinee, have declined the collaboration multiple times in the past. This lawsuit, sources allege, is Heritage of Pride’s retaliation.
In a statement regarding the preliminary injunction, Matinee co-organizer Brandon Voss said:
It is absurd that any organization should own the word Pride used next to the name of our city. 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.
Chris Frederick, managing director of Heritage of Pride, Inc., disagreed, saying in email to Queerty:
The fact remains that Matinee was blatantly misrepresenting their relationship with the organization and brand ‘NYC Pride,’ which we have built over many years. NYC Pride is a non-profit organization that’s entire mission is to empower, enlighten, engage, and help to commemorate how far the LGBT community has come. Matinee’s claim that we are trying to own ‘Pride’ is false, and a distraction from their unlawful, misleading conduct. Anyone who reads the court’s opinion will immediately see what is really going on in this case.
As of June 21, all materials related to the Matinee event had been altered to include the words “Matinee Pride” in place of “NYC Pride.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the headline for this post indicated that NYC Pride has sought exclusive ownership of the word “Pride.” In fact, the organization Heritage of Pride, which operates NYC Pride, sought trademark over the term “NYC Pride” term alone, and the judge in the case agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction against Matinee NYC’s use of the term.