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MyGayCanada.com Shuts Down Amid Trademark Allegations
 

THE Canadian GLBT website MyGayCanada.com has suspended operations amid allegations of trademark infringement.

Owner and operator Mark Robins in Vancouver received a letter from GayCanada.com - the Canadian Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Resource Directory (CGLBRD) - Sunday.  Hours later MyGayCanada.com was reduced to a note to visitors on the home page.

Says the note, "We have been advised by the Canadian Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Resource Directory that there is some confusion between this site and theirs [GayCanada.com].  We dispute this claim, however, are tired of trying to justify our existence."

CGLBRD Coordinator Kevin Cassidy confirms that a letter was sent.  In it, he says, he requested that Robins stop using the name MyGayCanada and its associated URL.

"Initially, we had sent a formal written request to the operators of MyGayCanada.com that we believed there was a trademark infringement for the term GayCanada and we requested that they stop using the name GayCanada if it didn't refer to the website that was run by the CGLBRD," Cassidy told gayottawanow.com

"[Robins'] response to this was that he didn't believe that there was any confusion or trademark infringement," continued Cassidy.  "We replied and explained to him what constitutes trademark infringement, all along saying that we didn't want him to shut [MyGayCanada.com] down, just change the name, don't change anything else."

Robins issued a press release Sunday saying that the operators of CGLBRD have "threatened legal action against an alternative LBGT directory" and that "it is clearly a ploy by The Canadian Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Resource Directory to stifle competition."

MyGayCanada.com launched one year ago and featured, among other things, a directory of Canadian GLBT sites and resources.  It recently received national attention when one of its online polls asked if gays thought Stockwell Day was sexy.

The 63% 'Yes' result was publicized by Robins and published in GayOttawaNow.com and a few days later in The National Post.

"We have been operating for over a year now without any word from these people," continued Robins in his statement.  "Then once we start to receive some national headlines, because of our recent Stockwell Day poll, they have threaten[ed] us with a lawsuit."

Cassidy did not comment on the prospect of GayCanada.com pursuing legal action against MyGayCanada.com but following the shut-down added, "We regret that [Robins] felt that he had no other choice than to completely shut down his website and we felt that he didn't have to take such drastic action; we reiterated that we don't wish him to stop what he's doing."

The GayCanada.com coordinator said that his organization has offered to provide assistance in this matter all along.  Their website has been up for about six years and reports a unique viewer rate of about 1200 a day.

"We hope that the lines of dialogue remain open so that both of us can continue to serve the GLBT communities of Canada," he stated.

For his part Robins seems intent on not reversing his decision.  In another statement issued this morning he said "It was not an easy decision but as a very small business we could not afford potential legal action.  We did this as a community service, not as a money making scheme."