village persons

1970s Camp Group Threatens Lawsuit Against Anyone Who Keeps Them Relevant


Because the Village People, own the rights to any troupe that dresses as a cowboy, cop, American Indian, construction worker, and a sailor (it’s true, they own it!), the “YCMA” group is furious that chef Jamie Oliver dared dress up as exactly that (see below) to promote his new TV series Jamie’s American Road Trip.

Now the band is threatening a trademark lawsuit against Channel 4, which airs the series. It doesn’t help that Oliver was dancing to the Village People’s “Go West” during the promos, completely nixing any attempt at defending Oliver’s costumes as a happy coincidence.


Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #jamieoliver #lawsuits #villagepeople stories and more


  • Fitz

    Are you saying that people shouldn’t be able to trademark a distinguishing look? That’s their product. They put it together.

  • badlydrawnbear

    If you are going to using someone else’s idea to market you own you need to pay the other party for the right to do so. This is pretty basic law and any television network should be WELL aware of this, since they themselves employ would retain a lawyers to search for and sue other party’s for the exact same kind of trademark infringement the Village People are accusing them of.

  • Marc

    Well, we all know the lead singer needs more crack money, so it’s a no-brainer.

  • Tom D Frog

    soooo, Satirical Impersonation is illegal/copyright infringing. Someone call SNL quick! Damn, I guess I will never get to wear my Cher wig again.


  • terrwill

    While I kinda agree they should be happy for anything that
    makes them relevant to the 2000’s there is no denying that
    this is a complete ripoff of them. Like Badlydrawnbear states
    the suits at the ch 4 would be the first to file a suit
    against a bunch ‘o Gays dancing around with a big number
    “4” costumes…..

  • FakeName

    Satirical Impersonation is illegal/copyright infringing. Someone call SNL quick!

    Um, it says pretty clearly in the story that the group is considering suing for infringement of trademark, not copyright. And this suit would be taking place in England, which has different laws than the US.

    Damn, I guess I will never get to wear my Cher wig again.

    Yes, that would be for the best.

  • terrwill

    No. 6 · FakeName:
    Damn, I guess I will never get to wear my Cher wig again.

    Yes, that would be for the best.

    Gay America exhales a huge sigh of relief at that news!!

    (I owed you one! : P )

  • FakeName

    Shot fired, shot missed! I’m not the one who made the Cher wig comment. That’s quoted from post 4.

  • The Gay Species

    So, if someone stole Queerty’s trademark, it would be okay? Have you no standards? Hey, there’s a reason we have laws, and most trademark infringements are justifiably penalized.

  • terrwill

    First days with my new eyes! still owe u one……..

  • Matthew Rettenmund

    This is so NOT a valid claim, unless England’s laws are that stupidity trumps over all. It’s clearly done satirically, whether or not it’s done to promote anything. Good luck, VP.

  • FakeName

    I don’t know what the law is in England but in the US one condition of trademark law is that the trademark holder has to defend the trademark. That means in part advising people who use the trademark without permission that the trademark is still in force, regardless of the nature of the use. This very well could be the case here, that VP is simply defending its trademark. This letter goes out, not because there is any serious intention of suing, but so that the next time someone uses the VP trademark without permission the user can’t claim that VP isn’t defending the mark. It’s not stupidity, it’s defending what VP claims is a multi-million dollar a year brand.

  • Paul


  • David

    The settlement they’ll pay will probably be cheaper than the free advertising channel 4 will get for the show.

  • Oh-Oh-Watnow

    So why hasnt the YMCA sued the village people? In fact, why not construction workers, cops, native Americans.. oh and that cute sailor guy?

  • The Gay Species

    Most of us can distinguish between “freedom of speech” and “trademark infringement.” It’s not that Randy the cowboy is imitated, thus a violation of “cowboy trademark,” but that all six stereotypes are violated without paying royalties.

    As to “imitation is the finest form of flattery,” go ahead and imitate, but if you imitate McDonald, Olympics, it will haul your ass into court — and WIN. Names are forms of trademarks, but icons are no less a part of the trademark (e.g., ATT’s globe).

    The use of all the characters without royalties is a trademark infringement. Singing the song “YMCA” without royalties is a trademark infringement. Use of “YMNA” in a song, or dressing like a cowboy, is freedom of action.

  • emceebee

    If they sue Jamie Oliver it will encourage him to do more shows to pay for the law suit. He is paying tribute / satire. All that is wrong in it is that he didn’t get permission. But to be honest I didn’t know there was a Village People trademark.

    Does this mean Madonna can sue anyone who wears a pointy bra or Kylie can sue anyone who wears a pear of gold hotpants?

Comments are closed.