Pets.com starts dog fight

Spokesdogs no pedigree chums

Proof, if it were needed, that the virtual world is going barking mad comes courtesy of the US-based online pet store Pets.com, which is suing a TV show writer for - allegedly - defaming the Pets.com puppet spokesdog. Yes, you read it correctly, and no we're not making this up. The row centres around a rubber dog called Triumph which has a regular slot on the hit NBC show Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Unlike most dogs, Triumph smokes cigars and is known for being abusive toward the show's guests. An Associated Press (AP) report, doing its best to sound matter of fact, quotes part of the lawsuit, which was filed last week. "Triumph is a rubber-dog that ... regularly uses vulgarity, insults both the humans and other dogs around him and often conducts physical attacks of a sexual nature on female dogs," it says. Pets.com is claiming that the reputation of Socks, its talking head - if a dog puppet can be called such a thing - has been damaged by Triumph's behaviour. The man behind Triumph, writer Robert Smigel, now finds himself well and truly in the dog house, accused of calling Socks a rip-off of Triumph and of building Triumph's popularity by use of shock tactics. Pets.com has singled Smigel out in the lawsuit and is not taking action against the show or the network, only against the writer, according to AP. The amount of damages the site is looking for is unspecified, but we figure Pets.com will be hoping to win a lot (geddit!). A representative of the Late Night show (a human one) claimed that Triumph made his TV debut on 13 February 1999 and that Socks didn't arrive on the scene until August 1999. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and don't you forget it. ® Register Footnote: If you thought this story was puntastic enough as it is, here are some of the headline gags we couldn't find room for: Cry havoc and let loose the rubber dogs of war Site sues writer for fiddling on the woof Dog fight nothing to Smigel about Triumph's in yer face is adversity Writer faces woof and reconciliation commission

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