California Greek organization — a ‘frarority’ — sued over name

| Nov 12, 2012 | Trademark Law

A Greek organization that began at the University of California -Santa Cruz has been sued by a fellow Greek organization over the use of its name.

The organization that filed the trademark infringement suit is Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay men that started in 1986. The organization it is suing is Delta Lambda Psi (note the “S” instead of the “H”) a gender-neutral group that started at UC Santa Cruz in 2005.

Delta Lambda Phi alleges that Delta Lambda Psi is causing confusion and harming its reputation. It points out that both go by the acronym “DLP” and their Greek names are only one letter different. It has asked that Delta Lambda Psi be forced to change its name and pay damages.

Delta Lambda Psi, however, points out that it is not competing for the same market as Delta Lambda Phi because it is open to men and women of all sexual orientations, whereas Delta Lambda Phi is only open to gay men.

Delta Lambda Phi’s comment about the similarity of the Greek names is interesting, too, because after all, there are only so many letters in the Greek alphabet and fraternities and sororities are generally expected to follow the same naming conventions.

Evidently, the genesis for this lawsuit is that Delta Lambda Psi plans to open its third chapter (Delta Lambda Phi has 30 chapters) at the University of Oregon in Eugene. It seems that this will be the first college campus to have groups representing both organizations.

Source: Contra Cost Times, “Gay fraternity sues upstart over trademark,” Jeff Barnard, Nov. 9, 2012