California Trademark Attorney® Blog

LGBT Fraternity Sues Upstart Chapter For Trademark Infringement

October 26, 2012

university_campus.jpgCalifornia - A collegiate fraternal organization dedicated to the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students filed a trademark infringement lawsuit on Wednesday against a new fraternity at the University of California at Santa Cruz that it says is using a confusingly similar name.

Delta Lambda Phi National Social Fraternity was founded in 1986, and has used the trademark for its name in commerce since at least as early as 1988 and the acronym DLP trademark since 2001, according to its complaint in Oregon federal court. The fraternity currently has thirty chapters located across the U.S. and Canada.

In 2005 a group of unaffiliated gay students at UC Santa Cruz attended a conference focusing on gay issues, where they were exposed to Delta Lambda Phi. The students then formed the defendant fraternity, Delta Lambda Psi at UC Santa Cruz that same year.

Shortly thereafter, Delta Lambda Psi began using its name and the acronym in the Santa Cruz area to promote and identify itself as a college social organization aimed at gay, bisexual, transgender, and progressive students. Although Delta Lambda Phi has chapters at several other California universities, it does not have a presence at UC Santa Cruz.

"Defendant's use of a name that differs by only a single letter from plaintiff's name has already caused many examples of actual confusion," the complaint says. "This confusion has been compounded by defendant's use of DLP to identify itself on Twitter, MySpace, and in its founding documents."

Delta Lambda Psi has also shown that it intends to expand its use of the infringing trademarks at other universities, by opening at least one new chapter at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

"This use and expansion has caused and will cause immediate and irreparable harm to plaintiff," the complaint says.

Delta Lambda Phi is seeking an injunction prohibiting Delta Lambda Psi from using the infringing trademarks or any others that are confusingly similar to the plaintiffs' trademarks in connection with its Greek social organization, as well as to indicate membership within its Greek social organization. It is also seeking damages, costs and attorneys' fees.