Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

State Legislation & Policy

Case: Dykes on Bikes

STATUS: Victory, California

NCLR and the Brooke Oliver Law Group represented the San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent in an action to register the name “Dykes on Bikes” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO initially rejected the application on the ground that the term “Dykes on Bikes” is disparaging to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. NCLR and the Brooke Oliver Law Group then submitted extensive documentation from activists, community members, and scholars from across the country, demonstrating that the LGBT community considers the name “Dykes on Bikes” to be a positive, empowering and affirming term. Despite this evidence, the USPTO again rejected the trademark application on the grounds that “the term dyke is considered vulgar, offensive and/or disparaging.”

After bringing in additional assistance from Gregory Gilchrist, Leigh Kirmsse and Gia Cincone of the law firm of Townsend and Townsend and Crew and Anne-Marie Dinius of DLA Piper Rudnick, the San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent appealed the denial. In a decision issued December 6, 2005, the Trademark Office reversed itself and finally granted the application. In July 11, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a final ruling affirming the group’s trademark of the name “Dykes on Bikes.”

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