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Lesbian Sorority Asserts Trademark Rights

HOUSTON (CN) - A sorority for "masculine-identified lesbians" sued to stop an offshoot sorority from using its "proprietary rituals, procedures and plans."

Alpha Lambda Zeta Fraternity sued Rho Beta Xi Fraternity and three former members who started the competing group, in Federal Court.

"Alpha Lambda Zeta Fraternity Inc. is a nationally recognized fraternity for masculine-identified lesbians (i.e. stud, butch, tomboi [sic], etc.) who seek to promote positive images of the LGBT community through service to the community and impacting political change," ALZ states on its website.

Founded in 2006 and based in Santa Maria, Calif., Alpha Lambda Zeta promotes itself with several trademarks including, "Alpha Lambda Zeta Fraternity Inc.", "Alpha Lambda Zeta", "ALZ", "ALZFI", and "Southern Prettibois," according to the complaint.

Alpha Lambda Zeta claims its defendant former officer Tania Brandon and members Radonna Russ and Kristina Crowell incorporated Southern Alpha Lambda Zeta Fraternity in November 2012 while they were still members of Alpha Lambda Zeta.

"On or about March 21, 2013, Southern Alpha Lambda Zeta Fraternity Inc. changed its name to Rho Beta Xi Fraternity Inc. but continues to engage in direct competition with plaintiff and to capitalize on the goodwill and reputation of plaintiff," the complaint states.

"Since at least November 27, 2012, defendants, with actual knowledge of plaintiff's rights in and to the marks, have used and, on information and belief, continue to use the marks to advertise and promote their organization and services. ... Further, on information and belief, defendants have used and continue to use proprietary rituals, procedures, and plans which belong to plaintiff.

"Plaintiff has asked defendants to cease their unauthorized use of the marks and proprietary rituals, procedures, and plans which belong to plaintiff. Despite plaintiff's repeated and reasonable requests, defendants continued, and on information and belief will continue, to knowingly and willfully use proprietary rituals, procedures, and plans which belong to plaintiff and the marks to advertise and promote their organization and services.

"Defendants' unauthorized use of the marks is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive consumers as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or affiliation of defendants' organization and services. The public is likely to believe, erroneously, that defendants' organization and services are affiliated or connected with plaintiff.

"Any failure, neglect, or default by defendants or any negative public perception of defendants or the services offered by them will likely reflect adversely upon plaintiff."

ALZ does not elucidate the nature of its proprietary rituals, procedures, and plans.

It seeks a restraining order and injunction and damages for trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition, misappropriation, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty and.

It also wants the defendants to account for and pay it all profits derived from the infringement.

It is represented by Thomas Jacks with Chalker Flores, of Dallas.

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