imageThe GA Voice responded on Monday to allegations that the company misrepresented itself as the former Southern Voice, arguing that it’s “proud and excited” about their new LGBT newspaper.

The five-paragraph response from Laura Douglas-Brown and Chris Cash, editor and publisher of the GA Voice, takes issue with a cease and desist letter from Gaydar Magazine LLC, the company that outbid them for the assets of Southern Voice and David magazine in bankruptcy court last month.

Gaydar accused the GA Voice of representing itself as SoVo in public and as it sells advertising, using a URL that includes the SoVo name, and repurposing SoVo distribution boxes as its own. The company delivered the letter on Friday, the same day the GA Voice distributed its first issue.

“We have no reason to pretend to be Southern Voice, and in fact had publicly stated prior to the Feb. 25 sale of the Southern Voice assets that even if we purchased the name, we would not use it,” Douglas-Brown and Cash write in the letter. “We are proud and excited about our new publication, the new opportunities the Georgia Voice represents, and the tremendous public response to our debut issue.”

In its letter, Gaydar included a photograph of what appears to be a former SoVo box with copies of the GA Voice inside and GA Voice sticker covering the SoVo logo (photo). On Monday, the independent contractor hired by the paper, Susan Valentine, posted a comment on Project Q Atlanta admitting that she mistakenly placed a GA Voice decal on a SoVo distribution box and didn’t realize the box was now owned by Gaydar.

“We just did not know about all this litigation between these two parties and the ramifications of such a mistake,” Valentine writes in her comment. “It was GA Voice’s first edition and my first time driving the route. [It] will never happen again.”

On Saturday, Douglas-Brown said the company was investigating the claim by Gaydar concerning the newspaper box. In the statement issued Monday, the company said the box was located in the Ansley Forest apartment complex and that it’s working to assure that other SoVo boxes are not relabeled as distribution points for the GA Voice.

“We purchased 40 plastic green boxes to distribute our new publication. We hired an independent contractor, Susan Valentine, to deliver the papers. She was specifically instructed to place our papers in Georgia Voice boxes and was given a list of the locations where we had placed those boxes. As soon as we learned that a Georgia Voice sticker was found on a black metal old Southern Voice box, we started an investigation. Ms. Valentine admitted that she had in fact placed a sticker on the old Southern Voice box located at the Ansley Forest apartment complex, even though a green Georgia Voice box was present in the same location. We are taking appropriate action to ensure that this will never happen again,” Douglas-Brown and Cash write.

Gaydar alleged in its cease and desist letter that the GA Voice used savesovo.com to redirect traffic to the website for the new publication. The savesovo.com site was shut down on Monday.

“We stopped posting content on savesovo.com on Feb. 19, 2010, shortly after launching thegavoice.com. Mr. Neumann subsequently outbid us to purchase the assets of Southern Voice, including the name, on Feb. 25, 2010. While we believe our mission has always been clear, we have now stopped redirecting savesovo.com to thegavoice.com to alleviate any confusion and to assuage Mr. Neumann’s concerns,” Douglas-Brown and Cash write.

The full statement from Douglas-Brown and Cash:

The Georgia Voice is a new LGBT media outlet created to educate and empower readers to become informed advocates for the rights that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to be denied in the 21st century. Our print edition debuted on March 19, 2010.

We purchased 40 plastic green boxes to distribute our new publication. We hired an independent contractor, Susan Valentine, to deliver the papers. She was specifically instructed to place our papers in Georgia Voice boxes and was given a list of the locations where we had placed those boxes. As soon as we learned that a Georgia Voice sticker was found on a black metal old Southern Voice box, we started an investigation. Ms. Valentine admitted that she had in fact placed a sticker on the old Southern Voice box located at the Ansley Forest apartment complex, even though a green Georgia Voice box was present in the same location. We are taking appropriate action to ensure that this will never happen again.

The website savesovo.com was launched on Nov. 20, 2009, just four days after the unexpected demise of Southern Voice. As was stated repeatedly from the very first post on savesovo.com, our goal was to provide in-depth reporting on LGBT issues by starting a brand new publication. We discussed our plans with the community at a public meeting on Dec. 3, 2009, during which attendees voted to name our new publication the Georgia Voice.

We stopped posting content on savesovo.com on Feb. 19, 2010, shortly after launching thegavoice.com. Mr. Neumann subsequently outbid us to purchase the assets of Southern Voice, including the name, on Feb. 25, 2010. While we believe our mission has always been clear, we have now stopped redirecting savesovo.com to thegavoice.com to alleviate any confusion and to assuage Mr. Neumann’s concerns.

We have no reason to pretend to be Southern Voice, and in fact had publicly stated prior to the Feb. 25 sale of the Southern Voice assets that even if we purchased the name, we would not use it. We are proud and excited about our new publication, the new opportunities the Georgia Voice represents, and the tremendous public response to our debut issue.