As previously reported, the lesser-known WallStreetSex.com combines real-time financial information with erotic chat rooms, sex videos, and a "trading pit" that is really a store filled with adult toys and lingerie. Some services cost $9.95 per month.
But the adult site bears a striking resemblance to TheStreet.com, which launched in November 1996 and charges $6.95 to $9.95 per month for access to news and commentary about investing.
On September 3, TheStreet.com fired off a "cease and desist" letter to Alphabit Media in San Francisco, which hosts the site. TheStreet.com wanted WallStreetSex.com to stop using its stock ticker and to change its design--or face a possible copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit.
In response, WallStreetSex.com pulled TheStreet.com's ticker, but the site looks the same.
"They had told us to remove questionable material, which we have done," said Andrew Strauss, who owns the adult site.
"As far as we are concerned, the 'look and feel' is made up of original material," he added. "We feel that since the Java ticker is gone that we are not infringing on TheStreet's name."
However, TheStreet.com says WallStreetSex.com is still trading on its hard work. Like many online content providers, TheStreet.com depends on its design and trademarks to set it apart from the rest of the news on the Net.
"We are not satisfied," said Sean McLaughlin, TheStreet.com's spokesman. "This matter is still in the hands of our attorneys. We do not feel that further comment is appropriate."
Legal experts say that a Web site's source code can be copyrighted. A site also can sue for trademark infringement if, for example, another site is creating consumer confusion by using its trademarks. Copying the "look and feel" of another site also can come up under trademark infringement.