The now multinational (etoys.uk) online retailer eToys is using
corporate bullying tactics to deprive internationally acclaimed art group etoy of its internet domain.
Etoy was formed as a collective of "agents" in Switzerland, Italy,
Austria, the U.S. and elsewhere in 1994. Etoy operates
a "corporation", and purchasing their pieces makes you a
"shareholder." In this framework, etoy's projects subvert and
criticize the behavior of real-life corporations, poke fun at their
inflated stock prices, and in particular, thematize corporate
advertising practices in the best tradition of conceptual media art
and "culture jamming." etoy has won electronic arts' most
award, the Golden Nica in the internet art category, in 1996.
An integral part of the artistic identity of the etoy collective is
their internet website at www.etoy.com. On September 10 of this
apparently because someone mistyped their internet address, landed
etoy's site, and was offended by the content, US online toy retailer
eToys sued the artists for trademark infringement and dilution,
unfair competition, and also threatened to file a complaint with the
Securities and Exchange Commission over etoy's sale of their art as
"shares." eToys was granted a preliminary injunction that shut down
the etoy website on November 29, even though the etoy.com domain
predates eToys' very existence by more than two years.
It is of course obvious that the allegations themselves are
preposterous. etoy is not domain name squatting (registering an
internet domain in the hope of selling it for profit) or unfairly
competing with eToys (they certainly don't sell toys!). eToys is
merely after the domain name etoy.com, and obviously large sums of
money are on the line for them. In fact, eToys has offered to pay
etoy tens of thousands of dollars for a transfer of the domain name.
Artistic integrity, of course, has prevented etoy from accepting the
I hope you agree with me that this is a despicable act of corporate
bullying on the part of eToys, with no regard for the freedom of
speech and artistic expression. I, for one, will not buy the
Christmas presents for my niece and nephew from eToys.com. Please
support etoy's struggle by doing any or all of the following:
1. Do not buy from eToys.com. There are many other online toy
retailers, a list can be found, e.g., at
2. Sell your shares in eToys corporation.
3. Let eToys know how you feel. Addresses can be found
4. Become an etoy "shareholder" and support the art group
5. Urge your friends and colleagues to do the same. Spread the word!
Further information is contained in a recent articles listed at
Of particular interest is an article in the Village Voice:
etoy's website is accessible at http://www.toywar.com