19 May 2004

From Today's Dallas Morning News

A satirical Web site spreading an anti-fur message by making fun of Neiman Marcus has survived a bid by the Dallas-based retailer to turn it into roadkill.

The National Arbitration Forum, an agency empowered to resolve disputes over Web addresses on the Internet, ruled that the Fund for Animals can continue using domain names that include "NeimanCarcass."

In March, Neiman Marcus filed a complaint that the Web address was "confusingly similar" to its own and would divert customers and hurt its business.

The Fund for Animals, which was founded by the late author and critic Cleveland Amory and operates an animal sanctuary in Henderson County, put up the site about a year ago.

The organization said the name was a parody that did not infringe on the retailer's business.

Visitors to neimancarcass.com find photos of suffering animals, pleas not to buy fur and links to urge Neiman Marcus not to sell it.

"We're not telling people to boycott Neiman Marcus," says Michael Markarian, president of the Fund for Animals, which is based in Silver Spring, Md.

"We're educating the public and asking them to speak out."

Mark Schaaf, a spokesman for Neiman Marcus, said the company had no comment.

The ruling by arbitrator Charles K. McCotter Jr., which was dated May 14, concluded that "NeimanCarcass was sufficiently distinguished" from Neiman Marcus and clearly a parody that would not confuse customers.

"It is unreasonable to believe that a reasonable consumer would be confused as to what the Web site is about or whether it is owned, sponsored or affiliated with" Neiman Marcus, he wrote.

Pierre Grzybowski, grass-roots coordinator for the Fund for Animals, called the decision "a victory both for free speech and the millions of animals who rely on us to tell the truth."

Mr. Grzybowski said the organization was targeting the upscale chain "because they set trends among the major department stores. We're eager to work with Neiman Marcus to become socially responsible."

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