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FEATURE

Sports Complex

Faking the Team: Questionable Recruitment for OutGames


Jim Provenzano | July 18, 2005

Charles King, of the Federation of Gay Games and Team San Francisco
With Gay Games VII in Chicago and OutGames in Montreal as the two choices for summer 2006, supporters of OutGames and its affiliated group, the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA), have tried various ways of gaining endorsements from local sports organizations.

Richard Hogan was a key player in Team Sydney's bid for Gay Games VI. He says that the Team Sydney Sports Council became inactive after the 2002 Games, but saw some activity after the Chicago/Montreal split. When fellow board president Geoffrey Lyne, a founding member of the GLISA board of directors, returned from Montreal's GLISA meetings, he and three other Team Sydney board members met in private and voted to endorse OutGames exclusively. (Lyne has not replied to a request for comment.)

Additionally, Hogan says he discovered that e-mail messages from the Chicago Games were kept from the general membership by Lyne. "This was done without consulting the Team Sydney membership. There was an obvious push to promote GLISA and the OutGames over and above the Gay Games. This started to concern many longtime members."

At Team Sydney's next meeting, nearly all the membership voted, and a resolution passed to actively promote the Chicago Gay Games and support its Australian participants. They also voted to immediately become Gay Games Partners, one of 60 teams internationally to do so. Three board members later quit over what Hogan calls "the politics."

"Team Sydney has not taken a position to demand its members attend only the Gay Games," says Hogan. Instead, their revised motto is to support "participants traveling to North America in 2006." Currently, representatives supporting both events remain on the board.

For Team San Francisco, OutGames is a tough sell. The fact that San Francisco was the site of the first two Gay Games may be part of it. But one OutGames supporter persisted in a variety of ways, including allegedly infringing a trademark.

Brian Jung, a former Team San Francisco board member, has pleaded for "a single, unified, worldwide Gay Games in 2010 and beyond" at meetings, on websites, and via inappropriately obtained Team San Francisco e-mail lists.

Ross Hayduk of Team SF's board (and an FGG delegate) says Jung "monopolized meetings" with his arguments and insisted that he represented hundreds of Montreal-bound athletes. Yet, according to Hayduk, Jung could not identify a single one. Hayduk says Jung touted his skills as a "financial management expert," but never helped raise funds for Team SF.

So, in October 2004, the board voted him out. This year, Jung started an OutGames-focused Yahoo group named "TeamSF2006." Hayduk contacted Yahoo for alleged trademark violations. Yahoo closed the group twice, citing that the "TeamSF2006" group owner did not represent the nonprofit organization mentioned.

Jung, with Montreal's apparent support, then started a new group, Equipe San Francisco, calling itself "the Team from San Francisco."

An inquiring e-mail to "Equipe SF" was not answered by Jung, but forwarded to Jean-Yves Duthel, the Montreal-based publicist for OutGames and GLISA. Duthel claims that "neither 'Team SF 2006' nor 'Team San Francisco' nor any variation thereof is a registered trademark; hence, there is no legal protection upon which Team San Francisco could rely."

Team SF's website states that "any use of our trade name, trademarks in part or in whole, is strictly forbidden and protected by International Copyright law and U.S. trademark and copyright laws."

Charles King, an FGG delegate and Team SF member, says that, as a nonprofit that has used the name for more than 15 years, the group can make proprietary claim to its trademark. "In state common law, trademarks are protected as part of the law of unfair competition," says King. "[Trademark] registration just furthers that." The U.S. Patent Office confirms this, stating that rights can be established based on "legitimate use" of the mark without a fully registered trademark.

In the few salvos posted on Equipe SF's online group, the unnamed moderator blasts Team San Francisco for a "mean-spirited" attack, and claims the right to use the phrase "Team SF."

Roger Brigham, communications director for the FGG and a Team SF board member, disagrees. "Using variations on Team SF's name such as 'Team SF 2006' or 'Equipe San Francisco' are deliberate and obvious attempts to confuse people and accrue what usually is only earned through hard work," says Brigham.

By July 3, the Team SF board, with assistance from the Federation of Gay Games, planned to issue a cease-and-desist order with Equipe San Francisco.

What may appear to be a local issue could have larger repercussions. Nearly 10 percent of the participants in the Gay Games in Sydney - or about 1,000 athletes - were from northern California. The attempt to use trademarks without permission goes back to the 2002 contract disputes. Montreal organizers refused to pay the $650,000 licensing fee to use the term "Gay Games" in what could potentially be a multi-million-dollar merchandising deal.

In the Team SF situation, OutGames' Duthel says, "It is a terrible shame that the 'legal owners' of the term 'Team San Francisco' refuse to allow an LGBT team from San Francisco going to Montreal to call themselves as such."

Jung stated that he does not know how many people from the Bay Area have registered for OutGames. In response to a question about his membership efforts, Jung instead offered a lengthy treatise.

"We as a community should be standing together, united and supportive of each other in every respect and in every way," Jung wrote, in part. "Too much effort has been spent manipulating 'the truth' as a weapon against another. It's time for such bitterness and subversiveness to stop. Let it begin with me. Let it begin with you."

King warns other regional teams against such appropriation efforts.

"It's one thing if you want to organize athletes to attend a competing event," says King. "It's something completely different when that competing organization doesn't have the guts to establish its own identity."

Jim Provenzano is the author of the novels PINS and Monkey Suits. Read more sports articles at www.sportscomplex.org


Related stories
Out at the Old Ballgame: "Gay Days" and Baseball Fans [04/07/2005]
Gay Games 2010 bid – latest update [13/03/2005]
For more info on Gay Sport in South Africa contact Gay Sport SA

 

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