Walmart is not amused at the use of its name on this site and has sent a cease-and-desist notice to its creator, Jeph Jacques, creator of the Questionable Content comic.
In the C&D notice — signed “Sincerely, Walmart Brand Protection” — the country’s biggest retailer points out that it owns the Walmart and Wal-Mart trademarks and that Jacques didn’t get the company’s permission to use that trademark on Walmart.horse.
“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,” reads the notice, which alleges trademark infringement and dilution “because it weakens the ability of the Walmart mark and domain name to identify a single source, namely Walmart.”
As is boilerplate for such claims, Walmart contends that the use of the tradement “misleads consumers into believing that some association exists between Walmart and you, which tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of Walmarts products, services, and trademarks.”
The company is giving him 14 days to stop using the domain name in any way, but Jacques believes he’s within his rights to use the Walmart name because his site is too ridiculous to be confused with something operated by the retailer.
“I would argue that Walmart.horse is an obvious parody and therefore falls under fair use,” he writes. “Publicly available images of a horse, a Walmart store, and comical music make it clear that the site is meant to be a joke.”
He offers to include a disclaimer on the site and consider adding any new animals to the page that Walmart recommends.
In an e-mail to Ars Technica, Jacques describes the site as a “piece of postmodern Dadaism—nonsense-art using found objects, in this case publicly available images and the name of an megacorporation,” and explains that he intended to provoke the exact sort of response he’s received from Walmart. In his view, Walmart is contributing to the parodic nature of the Walmart.horse concept by demanding that it be taken down.
“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,” he writes.
Let’s just hope that the fecal matter industrial complex doesn’t take Walmart’s no-fun approach to trademarks and demand a similar takedown of poop.bike, which is regular reading in the Consumerist cave.