Why Is Walmart Picking On This Cute Horse?

Retail giant Walmart is not too happy with a picture of a horse posted online, and has issued a cease and desist letter to the creator of the site.

The website in question is walmart.horse, which consists of nothing but a picture of a horse superimposed over a picture of the front of a Walmart store – and despite the fact that most people would get a chuckle out of it, Walmart doesn’t find it amusing at all.

Cartoonist Jeph Jacques, creator of the Questionable Content webcomic, told Ars Technica that the site was the result of his interest in the latest batch of TLDs (Top Level Domains). Instead of the more common.com or.net that most websites use, TLDs use extensions such as.dog or.running to reflect special interests.

“The idea behind the site started out as a conversation with a friend of mine — we were extremely amused by the new.horse TLD and decided to register a bunch of ridiculous domain names with it.”

For the walmart.horse site, Jacques photoshopped a picture of a horse onto a picture of the front of a Walmart — both pictures that he said he found on the internet as public domain images. He calls it “postmodern Dadaism – nonsense art using found objects.”

“Its purpose is to provoke exactly the kind of response it has received, and in doing so to parody the Walmart corporation and its actions,” he said. “Claiming that walmart.horse defames the Walmart brand somehow is the highest possible satire, and the fact that this accusation came from Walmart itself is a most delicious piece of irony.”

According to the Toronto Star, Jacques wasn’t even sure if Walmart would notice the website, but apparently the corporation did. And although no one searching for Walmart’s site online would have any reason to add the.horse extension, the retail giant is claiming that Jacques is breaking the law by infringing on their domain.

Jacques received a cease and desist letter from Walmart last Sunday stating that his use of the Walmart name in the web address “constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of Walmart’’s trademark rights and unfair competition.”

“The Domain Name incorporates the well known Walmart mark in its entirety, and, by its very composition, suggests Walmart’s sponsorship or endorsement of your website and correspondingly, your activities.”

Jacques replied to Walmart that his site is an “obvious parody” and his use of the domain name and image falls under fair use laws.

“Publicly available images of a horse, a Walmart store, and comical music make it clear that the site is meant to be a joke. I would be happy to provide a disclaimer on the website explicitly stating this. If you have any requests for other animals you would like to see added to the image on the website, I would happily comply!”

Walmart has not publicly commented on the site, or Jacques’ response to their request to remove it.

Do you think the walmart.horse is a trademark infringement?

[Image via walmart.horse]