Rough Trademark


For a second year in a row, Dykes-on-Bikes, the famed group of lesbian motorcycle dynamos who lead the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, was refused property rights to their name.

Though they use their name as a self-empowering upending of the derogatory usage of dyke, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deems the term offensive, insulting, and scandalous. Jessie Roberts, a trademark administrator, told the SF Chonicle that the U.S. PTO is "looking out for the sensitivities of the general public more than that of a specific applicant." The article continues:

"I cannot imagine a more ironic twist of thinking than to judge this reclaimed badge of honor as insulting to the very community who has created its power," Joan Nestle, co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, wrote in a declaration supporting the Dykes on Bikes' trademark request. "Lesbians do not need to be protected from their own cultural creations, their own transformations of stigmas."

Libertarians may not always rise the flag for intellectual property rights and trademarks, but all can get a laugh out of the hypocritical prudishness of the US PTO—the office earlier approved a trademark for the television show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which also involves a once-pejorative term reappropriated by gays—and its irrelevant, bureaucratic crusade to protect the public from what is already thoroughly propagated in popular culture.