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Web Pornographer Faces Battle

Dan Parisi took Internet pornography to new heights - or depths - when he created an X-rated pay site at "www.WhiteHouse.com" on the World Wide Web.

Critics, including lawyers for the Clinton administration, say the name is an attempt to lure children and other unwitting computer users trying to reach the official site of government's executive branch.

It's no surprise that Parisi finally faces a legal challenge over the name of his web site. What is surprising, however, is that the lawsuit does not involve anybody representing that big white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Rather, it's the National Fruit Product Company - maker of White House brand apples, apple juice, apple sauce and vinegar - that recently demanded that Parisi shut down his site.

In a letter to Parisi, attorneys for the Virginia-based company said the sex site "dilutes and tarnishes the distinctive quality of our client's famous mark in violation of ... the Federal Trademark Act." They want Parisi to transfer control of the domain name to the company.

Fat chance, said Parisi, a New Yorker who operates the lucrative sex site out of Jersey City, N.J.

Two weeks ago he filed a request for declaratory judgment against the fruit company in U.S. District Court in New York. The court filing calls Parisi's site "one of the largest and most famous websites in the world" and says it has attracted 35,000 paying subscribers since its inception in 1997.

Parisi said he tried to solidify his hold on WhiteHouse.com by applying for a trademark on his particular use of the term "White House," just as 32 other companies have done before. He said his application was initially approved, but then ultimately denied.

As for the apple products that appear under the White House label, their name was born in 1913 when the National Fruit Product Company of Winchester, Va., borrowed the name "from the presidential mansion across the river in Washington, DC," according to the company's definitively G-rated web site.

Christopher Roblyer, an Atlanta attorney who wrote to Parisi on behalf of the company, declined to comment on the case.

Parisi has weathered criticism before.

In December 1997, White House Counsel Charles Ruff wrote: "We too believe in the First Amendment and in humor, although we see nothing humorous in your use of the White House domain name to draw children and other unwitting Internet users to your web site."

Parisi yielded to Ruff's specific demand that he stop using images of Clinton, his wife Hillary and the White House on the site. Nowadays, the site's only reference to its namesake in Washington is a section of nude photos of what are called "first ladies."

Parisi said he is "trying to get away from porand into other businesses," like free e-mail and chat features, a store, an auction area, and computer games, most of which will be free. The website's sex pictures and movies, though, will remain off-limits to all but those who pay $19.99 a month.

Each month, Parisi said, the site gets visits from 400,000 to 500,000 different computer users, many of whom visit multiple times.

Even if National Fruit Product Company gave in and offered to buy the site from Parisi, he said he's not interested.

"Why would we sell this? We're having a very good business right now," he said.

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