LGBTQ+ Community and IP Law
By: Kaylynn Kattiyaman
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) pride month. Dedicated to honoring the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, Pride Month provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the impact the community has had in the nation’s culture and history. In honor of Pride Month, Curington Law recognizes and celebrates the intersectionality of the LGBTQIA+ community by highlighting their contributions in expanding the I.P. legal field from within and outside the queer community.
Copyright Law and Drag
The art of drag has become a staple I.P. contribution of the queer community. Its ties to copyright date all the way back to the 1860s when Harlem’s Hamilton Lodge hosted secret “drag balls”. These events represented safe spaces for those in the queer community and allowed congregation without fear for years. The atmosphere was celebratory, as it consisted of a dance floor “where men dressed as women and women dressed as men.
Over the years, several elements of drag incorporate many forms of copyrighted works. For example, drag performers can register their original comedy and stand-up sketches, songs, and choreographic works. Video performances (like documentaries or television series’) and other varieties of performances (such as lip-synching) are also eligible in obtaining copyright protection. An example of these include the show Drag Race, which is one of the many forms of media that have helped spread awareness to the art form into mainstream culture.
While there are aspects of things not registerable for copyright, such as certain stage names that are based off of puns, the work inspired by drag represents an important part of the LGBTQ+ community and has allowed for a more diverse understanding of the nuances of copyright law.
Trademark and the Pride Flag
Did you know that the design and color scheme of the rainbow pride flag is purposely not trademarked? The creation of the Pride Flag was first designed in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade in 1978 by Gilber Baker. When Baker developed the flag, he intentionally failed to trademark the flag’s design because he intended that the flag be free to use by the public. Baker hired LGBTQ+ civil rights attorney, Matt Coles, who represented any challenged attempt from an advocacy organization to trademark the flag.
Baker and Coles’ contributions towards promoting public use of the Pride Flag places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, as it has served as an incredibly important symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, allowing the flag to be used by the public has transformed its design in recent revisions, as well as emphasizing the “inclusion and progression” aspects of the flag.
Though this month is dedicated in celebrating the best parts of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community, we must also educate and raise awareness of the discrimination faced by its members, especially the transgender community.
Curington Law understands the importance of providing a safe space for our clients. Our goal is to not only help you succeed and thrive, but also take the time to truly understand who you are and what you are fighting for.
Links to Sources Used