The controversial previous organiser of Joburg Pride is threatening to take legal action against the current Joburg Pride board for trademark infringement.
Gary Bath claims that the board is infringing his registered trademark of “Johannesburg Pride Foundation”. A letter from Bath’s lawyers claims that current organisers’ use of the term “Joburg Pride” is “confusingly similar”.
Bath was the event’s coordinator in 2004 and in a number of previous years. However, he came under considerable criticism because he ran the event in his private capacity and, under his leadership, Pride racked up substantial debts, leaving suppliers and supporters angry and short-changed.
Most embarrassing was the much publicised failure to pay the 2004 event’s charity – Nkosi’s Haven – the R10 000 which was promised to it; this after a very public handing-over of a cheque to the organisation. Gail Johnson from Nkosi’s Haven confirmed to Mambaonline that this has still not been paid to the organisation.
Ironically, the lawyer’s letter claims that Bath’s Johannesburg Pride Foundation “has acquired a substantial reputation and goodwill in South Africa”.
The threatened lawsuit demands that the board immediately cease any use of the trademark “Joburg Pride” and hand over for destruction any material featuring the “offensive use” of the Joburg Pride mark.
Sources claim that Bath’s move is simply an attempt to derail this year’s Joburg Pride; suggesting that he may be bitter about the past. Mambaonline contacted Bath, but he refused to comment.
In response to Bath’s threatened legal action, Joburg Pride said in a statement: “The Joburg Pride board refutes the claim that it is infringing on any trademarks and is prepared to vigorously defend any legal action taken against it on this issue.”
The board has previously taken the position that the term Joburg Pride should not be trademarked by anyone as Pride should not be owned by any individual or organisation and this would be akin to trademarking Christmas or Easter.
Since 2007, Joburg Pride has been run by a largely volunteer board as part of a registered section 21 not-for-profit company. It also includes community representatives from the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the board. The 2009 Joburg Pride parade is set to take place on October 3 at Zoo Lake Sports Club.