In what is a rather hilarious legal dispute, Walmart has issued a cease-and-desist notice over a horse. Walmart believes that the website walmart horse, which contains an image of a horse and a Walmart store, is infringing on its Walmart and Wal-Mart trademarks
Trademark infringement litigation can occur when one party believes that another party has used or copied its name or logo without permission. Infringing on a trademark can confuse the customer base, put a dent in profits and potentially tarnish the reputation of the infringement victim.
Despite the humorous situation with Walmart, it is somewhat understandable why the retailer would at least wish to make some early legal maneuvering.
The Story of a Horse, a Website and a Mega Corporation
The offending website created by cartoonist Jeph Jacques contains only an image of a Walmart store and a horse. Both the photo of the horse and the photo of Walmart are public-domain images that have been superimposed on one another.
Walmart claims that this horse image misleads potential customers into thinking that there is a connection with Walmart and the creator of the horse photo. Additionally, they believe that the image “tarnishes the goodwill and reputation” of Walmart.
What is Fair Use?
Jacques has been given two weeks to get rid of the domain name walmart.horse. However, he believes that his creation falls under fair use as a parody, because it is too preposterous for any consumer to take it seriously.
Fair use is an element of copyright law that allows small excerpts of copyrighted material to be used under certain circumstances without the need to ask for permission.
Currently, Jacques is trying to solve the dispute by allowing Walmart to recommend animals. He also says he will place a disclaimer on the website if the retail giant wishes him to do so.
Walmart is unlikely to be amused.
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[Did You Know? Walmart was on the other end of a trademark infringement dispute when it was sued by Converse in 2014.]
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