The photo was the sole content of the website, which was hosted by Tumblr.
Wal-Mart was specifically upset over the website’s domain name — www.walmart.horse — according to the site’s creator, Jeph Jacques. The company threatened legal action against Jacques and eventually he caved.
On his personal website, Jacques said the company sent him a cease-and-desist letter in March accusing him of trademark infringement for using Wal-Mart’s name in the URL.
“You have registered, without Walmart’s permission or authorization, the domain name(s) ‘walmart.horse,'” the letter said, according to Jacques. “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.”
The letter ordered Jacques to immediately stop using the domain name.
In a response to the letter, Jacques argued that the website was an “obvious parody” and fell under fair use.
“Publicly available images of a horse, a Walmart store, and comical music make it clear that the site is meant to be a joke,” Jacques wrote to Wal-Mart. “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!”
Wal-Mart refused to drop the issue and two months later filed papers with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) that initiated a domain name dispute, according to The Guardian. Ownership of the site was transferred to Wal-Mart on Monday, according to The Guardian.
“I didn’t feel like fighting them anymore,” Jacques told The Guardian. The site now belongs to Wal-Mart, the newspaper reported.
It is not unusual for companies to go after people or businesses that appear to infringe on trademark rights.
Starbucks, for example, made headlines two years ago after sending a cease-and-desist letter to a tiny brewpub in Missouri that started selling a beer called “Frappicino.”
Starbucks has also sued a coffee vendor in Bangkok for using a logo that looked similar to its own.
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