The San Bartolomé de Tirajana (SBT) Town Hall, responsible for popular tourist resorts such as Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, on the sunny south of Gran Canaria, have found themselves in conflict over the use of the word ‘Maspalomas’, due to a commercial entity trying, once again, to assert ownership over a world famous community event founded 21 years ago, in partnership with the local government, by the Gay & Lesbian Associates of Yumbo, GLAY. Is it time to reclaim PRIDE in Maspalomas?
The local municipal council has had the word “Maspalomas” registered as its own brand since 1997, but a pair of dance music promoters, contractually responsibility for the last five Maspalomas Pride events, have been attempting to privately register their own trademark as ‘Maspalomas Pride by Freedom’ through their company Jaifer Events SL.
This is not the first time that a private commercial enterprise has attempted to assert IP ownership over this event, an annual celebration founded and built by a community to become one of Europe’s leading PRIDE destinations and the only subtropical LGBT PRIDE of its kind.
The business at the heart of this latest controversy was appointed “by finger” and has, since 2016, sought to profit from the famous 21-year old event, having registered an association, calling it “Freedom”, so as to appear non-commercial and be permitted to take on this major LGBT celebration, in an attempt to emulate the original Yumbo not-for-profit organisation, GLAY (founded in 2001), before blocking the community group out of the event they created. GLAY, by contrast, has continued to reach out to the community, the town hall and Yumbo businesses with quiet dignity, and now wants to know when the community might be able to reclaim its pride in Maspalomas, or at the very least partake in its organisation.
Not a one of the many workers and residents this publication has spoken to over the last 6 years has ever been able to say how many, or who, the members of “Freedom” really are, nor how to join them or take part in their decision making on behalf of the community. One thing seems clear, though, it has not been an open or inclusive organisation by any measure, and lots of people have continued to suggest that they are just seeking to pass themselves off as representing the Yumbo community, without anyone really feeling they have any participation or say in how the main event functions.
It’s just not good enough.
– Inés Rodríguez, the SBT Councillor for Tourism
The local council says it has detected two recent attempts to register trademarks using the word ‘Maspalomas’ in the past month and a half, including for ‘Maspalomas Pride by Freedom’.
The Council has officially opposed these attempted registrations, as they (rightly) believe that inappropriate use of the name could harm the image of the destination. The current town hall administration has taken a dim view of commercial attempts to assert rights over this community event, for which the previous administration awarded a 5-year commercial licence, without any form of tender or public competition.
Inés Rodríguez is a trained lawyer, specialising in Civil Law, and since 2019 has been the local Councillor for Tourism, Finance And Municipal Heritage. She has reportedly accused the “Freedom” organisation of trying to deceive the Consistory by submitting a commercial trademark application without warning or permissions. The organisation has tried to argue that they only used their events and media company to apply in order to protect the event, claiming that their association lacks the financial resources to do so, as, according to them, the town hall owes them €150,000 from the 2022 and 2019 editions of the event.
A questionable figure, based on direct knowledge of town hall past provisions for this event’s organisation.
A mister Fernando Ilarduya, president of the so-called “Freedom Association” (in what is perhaps an over-estimation of his own position) expressed some surprise at not having received a call from the mayor or councillor to clarify the situation. He denies wanting to dishonestly appropriate the brand, despite having always added the words “by Freedom” to the event name since being contracted back in 2016, and has said that he only submitted the request to protect his company against “third-party companies that have already registered the ‘Maspalomas Pride’ brand”, a controversial action that was itself taken without the knowledge or agreement of the event’s founders, GLAY, while supposedly working for their interests under a merchandising license.
- Fernando Ilarduya
Ilarduya, in statements to the press, “thanked the councillor” for protecting the name of the destination, but also criticised the fact that other registered trademarks exist that could harm the interests of the Maspalomas Pride event. He points out that there is another private company that registered the ‘Maspalomas Pride’ brand in 2013, which now organises the alternative Winter Pride event in November.
Ilarduya appears to reveal his real concern, that an alternative commercial enterprise already has a pre-existing registration, even if that claim is also protested by the event founders. He fears losing what was never rightfully his.
The town hall has summoned those responsible for “Freedom” to a meeting next week to clarify the situation. The commercial events organisation has reportedly reminded the councillor that LGTB organisations have the right to defend their interests, seeming to imply that the councillor might not have been aware.
The situation has not, we understand, affected the planned dates for Maspalomas Pride on Gran Canaria, which is set to take place from 4 to 14 of May. It is not yet clear, however, whether the company Jaifer SL, nor their “Freedom” association will be taking part in the event. The councillor has said that her intention is for all private and public interests to work hand in hand on this community-organised celebration.
GLAY president, Andre van Wanrooij has welcomed the town council’s stance and reminded all involved of the organisation’s “ongoing protest against commercial property claims regarding the social-cultural-community event that is PRIDE in Maspalomas.” he went on to say, in a statement from the community group that, “any trademark or brand registration concerning PRIDE events in Maspalomas should only be held in trust by the ayuntamiento (town hall), or the founding community, GLAY, ensuring control is always in the hands of non-commercial and democratically-governed entities.”
A poll on the official Gran Canaria Maspalomas Pride Fan Page, last summer, overwhelmingly supported the return of GLAY with 84% of all respondents focused on a return to the Yumbo LGBTQIA+ community, themselves, organising future PRIDE events, alongside the town hall, rather than continuing with more of the same unaccountable, outside commercial businesses, serving up tired formats of simple dance music, drag queens and expensive temporary bars that cause real harm to the real Yumbo businesses of this busy reference nightlife and leisure hotspot, while doing little, if anything at all, to support LGBTQIA+ liberation, equity or progress.
PRIDE is not simply a brand name, it is a movement and it belongs to everyone.