Wally Martin is in a dispute over web address ownership with Tourism Langley. (Langley Advance files)

Website ownership pits Tourism Langley against local hotelier

Wally Martin owns website names similar to Tourism Langley’s.

Tourism Langley could take legal action against a well-known Langley B&B operator over his control of websites that use names similar to theirs.

Wally Martin has been a longtime operator of the Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast at Five Corners in the Murrayville neighbourhood.

For almost as long, he’s been critical of Tourism Langley and particularly of the two per cent hotel tax that funds part of its operations.

Martin recently received a letter from Tourism Langley, informing him that he’s being dropped as a member of the organization, partly for his vocal criticism of the group, and also asking him to cease and desist using a website and Facebook page.

“Quite frankly, I don’t care if I’m in or not,” Martin said of his membership.

But he said they have no basis for a lawsuit.

Martin owns tourismlangley.com and langleytourism.com, as well as a Facebook page named Langley Tourism. The websites direct web users to the site for The Princess and the Pea, and the Facebook page is similarly devoted to Martin’s bed and breakfast.

Tourism Langley’s official site can be found at tourism-langley.ca.

The letter from Tourism Langley notes a trademark registered on the group’s name since 2011.

But Martin said he has done business using the name Tourism Langley for years before the group was created, going back to the 1970s. He said he registered the websites years before the trademark was issued to Tourism Langley.

A domain name search found that Martin’s tourismlangley.com was registered in 2007, langleytourism.com in 2006.

Tourism Langley as an organization was spun off from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce starting in 2005. In 2006, the hotel tax was first proposed, and in early 2008, Tourism Langley officially began operations.

Tourism Langley executive director Erinn Krebda said the group does not want to go to court.

“Our hope is that we can resolve it,” Krebda said.

The organization might pursue legal action over the web addresses, but was waiting to hear from Martin, Krebda said.

The letter game him a certain number of days to respond.

Martin, who has repeatedly said over the years that he does his own marketing and that Tourism Langley doesn’t bring his B&B any business, said he was contemplating countersuing.

“It’s unbelievable how many places on the planet are called ‘Langley,’” Martin said.

“They have no claim to ‘Langley Tourism,’” he added.

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