Log on to SanDiegoPride.com for "the ultimate guide to San Diego pride parties and events."
Log on to SDPride.org for all official news and announcements from the nonprofit in charge of organizing the annual gay and lesbian awareness parade.
It is for some residents who are now accusing SanDiegoPride.com owner Johnathan Hale — publisher of San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, founder of Hale Media, and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio's longtime partner — of copyright infringement and of using his website to solicit votes for DeMaio in his hotly contested congressional run against incumbent Scott Peters.
Hale's website features pictures of past Pride parades, news of upcoming events, lodging recommendations, as well as a few advertisements from local businesses. Also on the site, located at the bottom right-hand side, is a window showing Twitter messages sent to and received by @sdpride. Scrolling through the feed, visitors can reads tweets from DeMaio, from DeMaio's campaign manager, and any DeMaio-related news.
The similar website name and the appearance of DeMaio's name on the website has resulted in complaints from the community.
"The website makes no attempt to inform online visitors that it is not the [official] website for [San Diego Pride]," wrote former attorney and community watchdog David Lundin.
"In general look, appearance, content, color palette and trade dress aspects, it is confusingly similar with the website at www.SDPride.org. Additionally, the www.SDPride.com website carries significant political campaign content favoring Carl DeMaio in his current Congressional race.This creates the general impression that Mr. DeMaio is favored or endorsed in this race by SD Pride."
Lundin also points out that the website may be violating federal campaign laws by not reporting ad space given to DeMaio as political contributions.
Hale, however, sees it differently. He says the website has been up and running for some time, long before DeMaio announced his run for Congress or entered politics.
“Hale Media has owned the domain SanDiegoPride.com and maintained this site for over a decade to promote Pride events, raise money for LGBT causes, and share news of interest to the LGBT community and are well within our rights to do so," Hale wrote in a September 25 email.
"In addition we have been a platinum level sponsor as well as a collaborator with the nonprofit that manages the actual Pride festival and parade.”
Hale’s explanation raises more red flags for Lundin.
"This response in no way addresses the legal, ethical, and fiscal issues of wrongfully profiting from consumer confusion and infringement," says Lundin. "Would Mr. Hale have any objection to clearly posting on the www.SanDiegoPride.com website that it is not affiliated with the official www.SDPride.org website?"
Up to now, officials the Pride organization is staying quiet on the issue.
"We are aware of the website, but we are electing to not publicly comment on it," was the statement from Stephen Whitburn, executive director for San Diego Pride.