Delta Lambda Psi, founded at UCSC as the world's first gender neutral Greek organization, has been sued by gay fraternity Delta Lambda Phi.
Whoever came up with the phrase “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” it apparently wasn’t the Greeks. Last month, national gay men’s fraternity Delta Lambda Phi filed a trademark infringement and unlawful trade suit against Delta Lambda Psi, a gender neutral “frarority” founded at UCSC in 2005. According to the lawsuit, filed by Portland firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, UCSC’s Delta Lambda Psi chose the name to “deceive the public” for its gain. Representatives from DL-Phi claim DL-Psi was founded after a group of UCSC students were exposed to their fraternity at a queer conference.
Delta Lambda Psi defines itself as “a safe space for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, cisgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and ally members” and is the world’s first gender neutral fraternity/sorority. It has two locations outside of UCSC: Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Oregon. Delta Lambda Phi, founded in 1986 and using “DLP” as a trademark since 2001, has 30 chapters across the United States and Canada.
“After DLP [Delta Lambda Phi] discovered that Delta Lambda Psi was using a name that differed from DLP’s DELTA LAMBDA PHI trademark by only a single consonant, and was also using the DLP trademark belonging to Delta Lambda Phi, DLP reached out to Delta Lambda Psi to try to resolve this dispute amicably. Although Delta Lambda Psi responded to initial inquiries, Delta Lambda Psi began delaying and refusing to address the serious harm and actual confusion caused by its infringement of DLP’s trademarks,” reads Delta Lambda Phi’s official statement.
“DLP would prefer to spend its time and money elsewhere. However, Delta Lambda Psi's failure to engage actively and cooperatively in resolving this dispute has driven DLP to litigation,” the statement continues.
But Eric Ball, an associate at Fenwick and West, representing Delta Lambda Psi in the lawsuit, says, “Delta Lambda Psi respects Delta Lambda Phi and the alternative that it provides for gay men. As a gender-neutral frarority, Delta Lambda Psi does not compete with Delta Lambda Phi. Delta Lambda Psi believes there is no merit to the lawsuit, and hopes that student groups can focus their energies on fostering respect, friendship and community service – rather than suing each other.”
Delta Lambda Phi does not have chapters at any of the three institutions where Delta Lambda Psi is currently located, but the growth of Delta Lambda Psi could present conflicts and confusion in the future.
“Delta Lambda Psi’s opening of a new chapter at the University of Oregon in Eugene has made the need to address this harm particularly urgent,” reads the Delta Lambda Phi statement.