Claiming the Delta Foundation, which represents Pittsburgh’s LGBT community, used her trademark Miss Pittsburgh name in two events, Michele Alexander, owner of WinACrown, has filed a copyright infringement against the organization, organization member Kierra Darshell and the Ultra Lounge. Alexander, who began holding her pageants in 1998, is seeking $500,000 in damages.
The six-count lawsuit lawsuit, filed Nov. 2 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, claims the organization infringed on her trademark with its Miss Pittsburgh Pride and Miss Pittsburgh Trash events, both held at the Ultra Lounge on Pittsburgh’s South Side in May. “The Defendants have always known of the existence of the Miss Pittsburgh title. The Miss Pittsburgh contestants and winners suffer irreparable harm from the illegal use of Defendants’ actions,” said Alexander.
“The contestants, supporters, local and national sponsors and advertisers who would be available to assist these young women in their quest for scholarship money as well as gain access to the Miss Pittsburgh titles are diminished and in some cases totally eliminated. The buying public is conflicted as to the rightful ownership of Miss Pittsburgh.”
Alexander’s lawsuit claims the infringement was intentional, noting the Delta Foundation had lost a challenge to her copyright ownership of the name in 2005.
In addition to the trademark violation, the lawsuit seeks damages for injury to her organizations reputation, unfair competition, dilution and cyber squatting.
Calls to Delta Foundation president Gary Van Horn Jr. said the organization doesn’t run the alternative pageants.
“We don’t really know why we’re named,” he said. “We have nothing to do with it.”