The greatest horse-based web domain in history is no more: Walmart.horse has disappeared from the internet following a complaint from the American megastore chain.
Registered in late February by Massachusetts-based cartoonist Jeph Jacques, author of webcomic Questionable Content, Walmart.horse was a simple website containing nothing but a picture of a horse superimposed on top of a Walmart store.
In early March, Walmart sent Jacques a cease-and-desist letter, arguing that he was infringing on the company’s trademark. In response, Jacques told them that the site was “an obvious parody, and therefore falls under fair use”, and refused to take the page down.
That seemed to be the end of the matter until Walmart responded in April by filing a plea with the World Intellectual Property Organisation under the organisation’s “Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy” (UDRP). The policy allows for trademark holders to seize control of domains that they don’t own, but which are “confusingly similar” to a trademark and registered and being used “in bad faith”.
“The UDRP is a domain name dispute resolution process that was designed to address cybersquatting issues,” says Roberto Ledesma, a New York-based trademark lawyer. “This is reflected in the elements needed to prevail in a UDRP, which requires that the domain name has been registered in ‘bad faith’ and without rights or legitimate interests in the domain.