Fur Flies Between Pets.com and Conan O'Brien

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So much for having a sense of humor. The struggling e-tailing site Pets.com has gotten a lot of mileage out of its wisecracking sock spokespuppet. Celebrity appearances even included guest spots on ABC news programs that didn't bother to disclose ABC's financial ties (parent Disney is an investor in Pets.com).

But it's not all laughs and good-humored corporate logrolling. The San Francisco-based pet-supply site is suing a "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" writer over a foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking rubber animal called Triumph the Insult Comic Dog that made its debut long before Pets.com was a get-rich Amazon.com spin-off. Triumph's creator, Robert Smigel, also the talent behind "Saturday Night Live" 's absurdist animations, is named in the federal defamation suit. Accoring to the suit, "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."