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Referencing Queen, Madonna, and Cher, TripAdvisor blasts ‘Straight Pride Parade’ over alleged trademark infringement

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 7/20/2019 Danny McDonald
a store front at day: TripAdvisor’s headquarters in Needham. © Steven Senne/Associated Press TripAdvisor’s headquarters in Needham.

TripAdvisor, the Needham-based travel company, has written a cease-and-desist letter to an organizer behind the controversial “Straight Pride Parade” scheduled for later this summer in Boston, alleging that he is infringing upon the company’s intellectual property rights.

The letter, addressed to John Hugo, who is president of Super Happy Fun America, the entity that is planning the parade, also said that a statement that claims that he is in negotiations with TripAdvisor as a potential sponsor for the parade are “completely false.”

Super Happy Fun America’s website appeared to be down Friday night. A message left with Hugo was not immediately returned. The parade, which has drawn a visceral reaction nationwide with critics calling it offensive, is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Bradford Young, TripAdvisor’s associate general counsel, said in the letter that Hugo’s use of the company’s trademark and logo infringes the company’s rights. Young noted that the company has not authorized Hugo to use the company’s name or logo in any way.

Young peppered his letter with references to a litany of songs, including ones made famous by Queen, Madonna, Diana Ross, Lady Gaga, Village People, Judy Garland, George Michael, Cher, and Cyndi Lauper, among others.

“[Y]ou are not sponsored by, associated or affiliated with Trip Advisor in any way, and thus, your use of our marks could confuse the public as to an affiliation with TripAdvisor,” Young said in the letter. “These inaccurate statements, which I trust do not show your True Colors, infringe on TripAdvisor’s rights under the Lanham Act, and impinge upon our Freedom! to decide with what organizations we want to associate our brand.”

He continued, “Have A Little Respect and remove those statements. TripAdvisor and I Will Survive without being associated with your event.”

For the cease-and-desist letter, the company chose song references that reflect “equality and diversity” the company values “in addition to historically having been applauded by the LGBTQ+ community,” a TripAdvisor representative said in an e-mail Friday night.

TripAdvisor is not the only company to call out the parade organizers. CNN reported this week that streaming giant Netflix called the inclusion of its company’s logo on the organizer’s website “gross and deeply hurtful,” and labeled it “deceptive misinformation.”

On Thursday, Lyft, the ride-share service, sent parade organizers a letter demanding the immediate removal of that company’s name, logo, and branding from their webiste “and anything related to your organization.” Like TripAdvisor, Lyft said it was false that the company had been in “negotiations, any type of deal, or sponsorship for your event.”

Last month, Hugo, a parade organizer, said former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos will serve as the grand marshal of the parade, which will start at Copley Square and conclude at City Hall, “where we will have speeches and some more celebrities, and just have a super happy fun time.”

City officials have said the public event application for the parade was approved in June.

The Super Happy Fun America website had previously stated that heterosexuals are “an oppressed majority” that has “languished in the shadows for decades.” The organization also wants the letter “S” to be added to the acronym LGBTQ. Hugo has said that the parade is not antigay.

One of the lead organizers who had pushed for the parade is Mark Sahady. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the same person from the controversial Resist Marxism group, which hosted the Rally for the Republic on Boston Common in 2017 that attracted swarms of counterprotesters.

Steve Annear and Emily Sweeney of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.

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