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Insult Dog Puppet Socked With Lawsuit
By JESSIE SEYFER, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO April 27, 2000 - Online pet supply store says the friendly reputation of its kitschy "spokespuppet" has been defamed by a foul-mouthed canine puppet featured on NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

In a federal lawsuit filed last week, accuses "Late Night" writer Robert Smigel, creator of the show's "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog," of defaming the ubiquitous sock puppet.

"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," the complaint says.

The lawsuit goes on to say that in "an attempt to harm the Sock Puppet's audience appeal and ... to increase Triumph's popularity through a public `controversy' or `scandal,"' Smigel has claimed to media outlets that "the Sock Puppet is a `rip-off' of Triumph."

The lawsuit names only Smigel and not the show or NBC. It seeks unspecified damages and legal costs.

Marc Liepis, a spokesman for "Late Night," said neither the show nor Smigel would comment on the lawsuit. But, he noted that the cigar-smoking Triumph made his debut long before the arrival of the sock puppet.

Liepis said the cigar-smoking Triumph first appeared on Late Night on Feb. 13, 1997. The puppet made its debut in August 1999.

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