2 min

Advisory panel elects co-chairs

Examines ownership of Pride trademark

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) Trademark Advisory Panel elected Rick Hurlbut and confirmed VPS board member Marc Schaper as co-chairs in a four-hour marathon meeting at the VPS office, Jan 11.

Tensions ran high at times with one community member leaving abruptly just minutes into the meeting.

Queer activist Jamie Lee Hamilton, who has opposed any move to enforce a trademark on Pride, left briefly herself after the panel rejected her idea of working toward consensus on the trademark issue and decided instead to adopt the democratic Robert’s Rules of Order procedural model.

At one point during the evening there was serious discussion of a motion that would have elected no less then four chairpersons from among the 10 community members who showed up to participate.

“Having co-chairs for a committee or any body is unusual enough in itself,” Hurlbut told the group. “In my experience it’s cumbersome because the chair is, in part, taking a leadership role and it creates confusion among the rest of the group as to who is in that leadership position.”

In the end, the panel elected only two chairs.

There was very little discussion of the trademark issue itself at the meeting, but the panel did decide to table a list of definitions for review at the next meeting.

Last spring the VPS informed groups planning to hold unofficial Pride events that it intended to enforce it’s claim on a trademark on queer events called Pride. It was necessary, said VPS president John Boychuk, in order to protect the VPS and Pride from profiteers who wanted to make a quick buck from the queer community without giving anything back.

Hamilton balked, saying that Pride was not a commodity to be bought and sold and that she had every right to use the word and express her Pride any way she saw fit.

At the VPS annual general meeting on Oct 21, 2006 the membership instructed the VPS board not make any commitments on the trademark issue until a special general meeting to be held no later than Feb 21, 2007. In the meantime, the VPS formed the advisory panel to examine the trademark issue and write a report for the society’s membership.

The national trademark on Pride festivals is owned by Pride Toronto, which is in the midst of a legal struggle over the scope of the trademark. Once that suit is cleared up, Pride Toronto has said it intends to pass control of the trademark to a national organization called Fierté Canada Pride, which will act as steward of the trademark for all legitimate Pride societies across the country.

The next meeting of the Trademark Advisory Panel is set for Jan 24 and the panel encourages anyone interested in participating to please attend.