Technology Log

"Simply Palm" ad parody shows some skin

Published April 5, 1999 9:22PM (EDT)

When Palm Computing bared the latest in sex-sells ads with its Simply Palm campaign, Web designer Jason Kottke ratcheted it up a notch. Spoofing the au naturel Palm V ads -- which show a sleek digital organizer resting in the seductive cradle of a naked "Kate Hunter, Dancer" -- Kottke created Simply Porn.

The series of four images, which features "slightly more racy naked women with the Palm V," according to Kottke, landed him in some hot water with 3Com, which owns Palm. Kottke says a 3Com lawyer called to tell him that the company was peeved and believed the parody ads infringed on its trademark. (3Com declined comment on Simply Porn or its communications with Kottke, saying only, "It's a legal matter.")

Kottke took down the "3Cum" parody, which boasts such salacious representatives as "Chesty LaRue, Hooker" and "Alotta Fagina, Porn Star." In its place on his OSIL8 site is the explanation that Kottke meant 3Com no harm: "I just thought the ads were kinda goofy and needed mocking."

So, apparently, do a half dozen other Web publishers, who mirrored the images after Kottke took them down. While Kottke weighs his legal options, he's providing links to the parody on the other sites. Fellow designer Peter Merholz, who was first to re-post the spoofs on his personal Web site, says he thinks the images fall within fair use rights. "It's making a viable social commentary about the billboards we see around town," he says, bemoaning only the fact that the ads themselves made it so easy for Kottke: "They're almost too obvious to parody."

By Kaitlin Quistgaard

Kaitlin Quistgaard, Salon's former technology editor, writes frequently about the arts and South America, where she once lived.

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