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UPDATE: Vancouver Pride Society sues WE newspaper

UPDATE: Vancouver Pride Society sues WE newspaper

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WE claims it was told only in June that it wasn't publishing the guide
UPDATE: July 31, 2:45pm

WE Vancouver (formerly the Westender) denies the Vancouver Pride Society’s (VPS) allegation that WE misrepresented itself as the publisher of this year’s Official Pride Guide.

The VPS is suing the weekly newspaper and former publisher of its Pride Guide for $25,000. “In early 2012, the defendant fraudulently represented themselves as the publisher of the Official Vancouver Pride Guide,” reads the VPS’s statement of claim, filed in BC small-claims court on July 13.

In its statement of defence, filed July 26, WE says the VPS didn’t even notify the newspaper until June 7, 2012, that it had lost the contract to publish the guide.

“Throughout 2012, Westender repeatedly sought confirmation with Vancouver Pride that Westender would be contracted to print the 2012 VP Pride Guide,” WE says in its statement of defence. “Vancouver Pride did not respond to Westender’s inquiries in respect of the 2012 VP Pride Guide or at all, nor did Vancouver Pride advise Westender it was holding an open tender to print the 2012 VP Pride Guide.”

Given their “lengthy and mutually beneficial business relationship,” WE says it expected the VPS to notify the newspaper that it was holding an open tender and to give WE an “offer of first refusal” to print the guide.

WE’s statement, filed by Shaun Ramdin of Heenan Blaikie LLP, alleges the VPS awarded the contract to print the guide to another printer “without explanation or timely notice.” 

Once it found out the guide would be printed elsewhere, WE claims, it took “all reasonable steps” to dissociate itself from the VPS’s Pride Guide.

According to its statement of defence, WE ceased “making any reference, either impliedly or expressly, to being the ‘official Vancouver Pride Guide’ or being the ‘Vancouver Pride Guide;’ making any reference to being the ‘9th Annual Pride Guide;’ trading on its past contractual relationship with Vancouver Pride; using any Vancouver Pride logo.”

“Further, since the Notice, Westender’s sales representatives have called each and every one of Westender’s advertisers reasonably expecting to advertise in a Westender printed 2012 VP Pride Guide to inform them that Westender did not procure the contract for printing the 2012 VP Pride Guide,” the statement of defence claims.

WE says the VPS’s allegedly late notice cost the newspaper money.

“As a result of the late date of the Notice, and the Defendant’s reasonable reliance and expectation that it would print the 2012 VP Pride Guide, the Defendant has incurred extensive damages as a result of the preparation costs to print the 2012 VP Pride Guide, and has incurred lost economic opportunities,” the statement claims.

In addition to the financial damages it claims to have sustained “as a result of Vancouver Pride’s negligence,” WE alleges the VPS “continues to wrongfully interfere” with the newspaper’s economic interests by “falsely and maliciously posting to its website that Westender has been misrepresenting itself as an official sponsor of Vancouver Pride and as the official publisher of the 2012 VP Pride Guide.”

WE has asked the court to dismiss the VPS’s lawsuit.


July 17, 2012

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is suing WE Vancouver (formerly known as the Westender) for $25,000, alleging the weekly newspaper misrepresented itself to potential advertisers as the publisher of this year’s official Pride guide.

“In early 2012, the defendant fraudulently represented themselves as the publisher of the Official Vancouver Pride Guide,” reads the VPS’s statement of claim filed in BC small-claims court on July 13.

The statement, filed by Ray Lam on behalf of VPS, accuses WE of acting “with great malice aforethought causing us to suffer significant financial losses in the form of advertising sales for the legitimate ‘Official Vancouver Pride Guide.’”

WE publisher Anne Devereaux declined comment for this article, but WE has 14 days from the time it was served to file its statement of defence in small-claims court. None of the VPS’s allegations have been proven in court. WE is published by Black Press.

According to the VPS statement of claim, the society had contracted WE to publish eight editions of its Official Pride Guide between 2004 and 2011. The VPS decided not to renew the contract in December 2011, claiming WE failed “to pay out revenue shares in a reasonable or timely fashion” and put the contract to tender.

The VPS statement of claim alleges that, despite the non-continuation of its contract with WE, the newspaper continued to “fraudulently” represent itself “as the publisher of the Official Vancouver Pride Guide.”

“This fraudulent activity was brought to our attention in June 2012,” reads the VPS statement of claim. “When confronted, the defendant claimed a single erroneous email was sent to one of our official 2012 festival partners and that they had not sold any advertisement on our behalf for the Pride Guide.”

The VPS statement of claim alleges that WE actively solicited advertising by “claiming to be our Presenting Media Sponsor.” The statement also alleges that WE used the VPS’s old logo in published sales material and included references to “the Official Vancouver Pride Guide,” “the 9th annual” and “the 9th edition” in unspecified communications.

Such references are consistent with the language used in earlier communication, the VPS statement of claim alleges, “falsely promoting their connection to us.”

The VPS statement of claim further alleges that WE’s published Pride guide “contains several elements which are intended to mimic the Official Pride Guide.”

“This includes but is not limited to: the same layout, font, style, and graphics used in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th editions of the Pride Guide published by the defendant; the use of the term ‘we’ in the description of an official Vancouver Pride event; a cover image which is similar to an image published online in January in a document titled ‘Vancouver Pride Society // Brand Guidelines’ and ads from long-standing Vancouver Pride Partners placed in the same preferred partnered placing as in previous years,” reads the VPS statement of claim.

“To date, the defendant has not issued an official erratum or acknowledgment of their wrong-doing and continue to be financially benefitting from their misrepresentations, while causing damage to our reputation and sales,” the VPS statement of claim alleges.

Comments

Dogass town
What a little dogass town Vancouver is. Or if there are any intelligent people reading this, the best word is vacuous. Hail the renaissance of Toronto!
Its a small community
From my days of writing for Angles in the 90s I can tell you that the advertising base for any publication in Vancouver isn't that large. Advertisers have to make well considered choices of who to advertise with because they may get two or three requests. I've seen FOUR Pride Guides in Vancouver this year. I'm not sure community businesses can afford that many. Advertisers have to know exactly who they are dealing with and which Guide the VPS endorses as official. Sellers have a clear responsibility to be clear whether their guide is endorsed by the VPS as official or not. Publishing such guides isn't just a valuable community service, it's a business where thousands of dollars switch hands. Publishing isn't free, it's hugely expensive. Personally, if I were a tree in a forest, I'd sue the whole lot of them for damages :)
These aren't just allegations...
I was emailed last spring by WE about buying an ad in the "Official Pride Guide". The price sheet I was sent had the Pride logo on it, stats from the Pride survey, and I was led to believe WE was selling ads on BEHALF of Pride and that Pride got money from it. I can't imagine how the WE thought they would get away with this...they are literally stealing from our community in a pretty public and despicable way. They were bound to be caught. Now that they are, I can definitely say I'm never advertising with them again. I can't imagine any one with conscience advertising with them.
VPS will do anything
I see VPS will stoop to nothing to get more money.
Quality
Both have been released in the last week from what I have seen, but it is pretty obvious one is of higher quality than the other. I don't remember what the guides from previous years looked like but the larger font and lower weight paper in the WE guide have me thinking that it was a rushed decision on their part. Why go out of your way to produce something that just feels cheap compared to the real deal? If you're going to knock off something at least try to be convincing.
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