Trademark This Part II

July 19th, 2005 | Uncategorized

The folks at the National Center for Lesbian Rights sent us a copy of the 2004 decision denying Dykes on Bikes’ motion for reconsideration. Apparently, the US Patent and Trademark office has concluded that the word dyke is “considered vulgar, offensive and/or disparaging” and is therefore unacceptable as part of a trademark. For proof, they attached some links to online dictionaries, and to a list of Spanish to English slang that includes the word “dyke.” The list also tells you how to say lots of other useful things in Spanish, such as “cunt,” “asslicker” and “69.” So bizarre that this is part of a government document!

But did anybody think to check Google? Type in the word dyke and this is what you get. The first thing on there is a site called Classic Dykes, “a cybernetwork for lesbians in midlife and beyond.” The other links relating to lesbians on the first page are all gay sites, like one for the Dynamo Dykes volleyball team in the UK. And the sponsor ads that pop up are all personals ads for people seeking “womyn” like them. Presumably, womyn who call themselves dykes.

Google is a much more credible arbiter than some wackjob list of translations.

10 Responses to “Trademark This Part II”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You wonder what the USPTO think of rap groups with names like “Niggers With Attitude”.

    Somewhere in my old memorabilia is a tube of Darkie(tm) toothpaste a friend got for me. Their logo is… highly stereotypical.

  2. Kate in Bowdoinham, Maine says:

    So what can we do to help out? Does the Patent and Trademark Office listen to angry letters from random citizens?

  3. yrleathergrl says:

    the portuguese word for ‘dyke’ doesn´t even appears in most dictionaries and I imagine that the Trademark and Pattent Department here would simply trust the anonymous judgement of a single employee to ‘get read’ of the subject…

  4. Cyan says:

    Oh sure. I am certain that my friend that put her (she thought) ironic website online, wanted nothing more than to stir controversy with this highly unacceptable word. I can also vouch that her correspondent, who wrote the most insightful angry rant, ‘God hates fags’ meant to be offensive too. Come to think of it, I’m being offensive to myself on a daily basis by calling myself a dyke. Ah, but now I know better.

    Thank your nanny state, ladies. Preferably in petition form.

  5. yrleathergrl says:

    do they work, petitions? not here. but if you’ll decide to post one on-line I’ll be glad to sign it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We had some really startling discussions about the subject of terms like gay, lesbian, or dyke in the forum of the English-German online dictionary LEO ( It’s really weird to be told by straight people that using the word gay, lesbian or dyke ist offensive. They quote all those dictionaries and don’t belive a word you say. But its mostly americans who say that.
    We found that only the AHD managed to include at least a mention of the changíng implications of words like dyke, gay, or other self-definition terms (can’t find the threads right now, the network connection is faulty).

  7. ryan says:

    maybe they think DTWOF is really an informational AFA site. They could be that stupid… otherwise, it’s an awfully cynical situation.

  8. Cyan says:

    Not sure about petitions, yrleathergrl. I wrote to NCLR about it days ago but there was no response.

  9. becky asrai says:

    i read in “velvetpark: dyke culture in bloom” that they’ve had the same problem with the patents office becuase the word dyke is supposedly “immoral and scandelous.” they’re going to try one more time then get lawyers involved…

  10. Ian says:

    I’m sorry, and I know this is really immature but I’m planning a trip to Central America and learning Spanish. I can’t help wanting to learn how to swear in Spanish! Anyone got this officially recommended website’s link? Hehehe. Nice to know the US Patent Office’s researchers are spending their time well …