Conan Writer in Doghouse

09/25/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Pets.com is suing comedy writer Robert Smigel for $20 million, claiming that he defamed the company's commercial spokespooch, Sock Puppet, with the "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" character Triumph, the rubber Insult Comic Dog. Pets.com says, according to 15 pages of legal papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, that Smigel, the ex-head writer for "Conan" attempted "to harm the Sock Puppet's audience appeal and market share" by claiming that Pets.com stole the idea for such a character from him. The suit also alleges that Triumph is "unwholesome" and, therefore, reflects badly upon Pets.com's Sock Puppet. Smigel had no comment (but Triumph has yet to address the matter). Meanwhile, Pets.com announced yesterday that a plush doll version of the commercial pup will be unveiled at this June's International Licensing Show in New York. According to Pets.com, more than 10,000 consumers have requested a doll version of the dog.

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