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Petsmart.com snaps up rival domain name

The online pet store signs a letter of intent to acquire the Pets.com domain name from the eponymous--and now defunct--e-tailer, in a deal that routes customers to its site.

Pets.com is dead. Long live Pets.com!

Petsmart.com has signed a letter of intent to acquire the Pets.com domain name from the eponymous--and now defunct--e-tailer. As part of the agreement, Pets.com customers are already being sent to Petsmart.com.

Pets.com became well known for selling pet supplies online through its popular "sock puppet" ads. Through the deal, Petsmart.com hopes to build on that branding success, said Lynne Adams, a spokeswoman for Petsmart.com parent company PetsMart.

"This gives us access to users we know who are interested in pets," Adams said. "This is another layer of helping draw people to the (Petsmart.com) site who may not have been there in the past."

Pets.com owns a slew of other domain names, including Hamsters.com and Petstore.com. As part of the deal, Petsmart.com will acquire some of these domain names also, although Adams declined to say which ones.

Pets.com's sock puppet is not included in the deal, which Adams said should close next month. Adams declined to give the financial details of the agreement, saying only that the deal was "not a material transaction" for either company.

Petsmart.com signed the letter of intent Wednesday, one day before the company withdrew its planned initial public offering. Earlier in November, brick-and-mortar pet supplies giant PetsMart agreed to invest $30 million and take a controlling interest in its namesake.

Amazon.com-backed Pets.com closed shop last month, laid off 255 of its 320 workers, and has been selling its assets. The company sold its Flying Fish Express unit, for instance, to Eric Silverman, who founded the online fish store in 1997. Silverman sold Flying Fish Express to Petstore.com last year; earlier this year, Pets.com acquired Petstore.com.

To entice Pets.com shoppers to purchase from Petsmart.com, the company is offering $10 off a $25 purchase to first-time shoppers who reach the Petsmart.com site through the Pets.com domain.

Despite having to postpone its IPO, Petsmart.com stands poised to be the leader for online pet supplies. Not only have Pets.com and Petstore.com gone out of business, but Petopia, backed by offline rival Petco, laid off 60 percent of its staff in October.