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Fur flies in animal rights domain dispute

Carcass and Marcus not 'confusingly similar'

The US Arbitration Forum has ruled that consumers are able to distinguish between a fur retailer and an anti-fur protest site. This rather common-sense ruling clears up a legal scuffle over ownership and content of

Fashion retailer Neiman Marcus had complained that the site was "confusingly similar" to its name and business, and asked that ownership be transferred. The judge presiding over the arbitration disagreed, and ruled that ownership should stay with the Fund for Animals, an anti-fur protest group.

In his judgement, the Honorable Charles K. McCotter, Jr. (Ret.) wrote that consumers "would quickly understand that the disputed domain names or the Web content to which they direct their audience are not affiliated or endorsed by Complainant and in fact are critical of Neiman Marcus insofar as it is involved in the sale of fur."

The ruling, which can be viewed in full here and must adhere to ICANN guidelines, said that the term "carcass," is "an obvious deviation from Complainant’s mark" and would not lead Net users to believe the site was run by Neiman Marcus.

The site in question is run by the Fund for Animals as a protest over the use of fur in fashion, and features animated Flash features explaining that fur trim still comes from dead animals, and so on. As readers will be able to see, the Neiman Marcus site is rather different. ®

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