Jeph Jacques, creator of the long-running webcomic Questionable Content, may have come up with the website walmart.horse on a whim, but global retail leviathan isn’t amused. In fact, Walmart has demanded the cartoonist, well, stop horsing around.
Jacques explained to Ars Technica that the webpage was inspired by the latest batch of Top Level Domains, domain-name extensions that reflect different 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,” he said.
One of these was walmart.horse; the page consists entirely of the image above, which itself is composed of two public-domain photos superimposed on one another. Jacques calls it “postmodern Dadaism — nonsense-art using found objects.”
He told the Toronto Star he wasn’t sure whether Walmart would notice, but it did: Jacques received a cease-and-desist letter on Sunday, claiming that, “Your use of a Domain Name that incorporates the famous Walmart mark constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of Walmart’s trademark rights and unfair competition.”
The cartoonist responded that the website is “an obvious parody” protected by fair use. He offered to add a disclaimer to the site and also to include any other animals Walmart would like to see. “Once I sent in my reply there was a moment of ‘haha, I sure hope this doesn’t RUIN MY LIFE’ but that passed quickly,” he told the Star.
Indeed, in the way of these things, Walmart’s response completes the work. As Jacques told Ars Technica:
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. 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.
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