Alleges Ad Too Similar to 1996 Michael Jordan Commercial

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Nike Inc., Beaverton, Ore., is suing Sega of America and its agency, Leagas Delaney, San Francisco, for copyright infringement and unfair competition.

Nike's suit, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Oregon, claims Sega's spot for its "NBA 2K2" closely parallels a 1996 ad from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, for Nike titled "Frozen Moment."

The Nike spot features Michael Jordan playing in a Chicago Bulls-Los Angeles Lakers NBA game. As Jordan gets ready for a slam dunk, the action turns to slow motion, and as TV viewers watch, their world does the same. In the Sega spot, video-game athletes also play a fast-paced basketball game that slows down as the game's players at home are also depicted in slow motion.

Down to the minor mishaps
Nike said

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the Sega ad parallels its Jordan spot, down to minor mishaps that occur around those watching the basketball game at home. In the Nike spot, for example, a sink overflows. In the Sega spot, a drink spills from an an overturned bottle.

Both spots end with a slam dunk taken from the same above-the-basket perspective.

Nike alleged that Sega's ad is "substantially similar" to "Frozen Moment," down to its "total look and feel, its style, expression and manner ... and its overall compilation of elements."

Seeking damages or royalties
Nike is asking that Sega stops airing the spots, which broke in January, and for unspecified damages. Or, according to the suit, Sega could pay Nike a "reasonable royalty on all sales of 'NBA 2K2'" video game.

Executives from Leagas Delaney did not return phone calls. A spokeswoman for Sega said she was looking into the matter.

Second suit
The lawsuit is the second in recent weeks involving complaints over allegedly purloined ad concepts.

On Feb. 1, MetLife and AT&T Corp.'s AT&T Wireless reached an agreement over AT&T Wireless' "mlife" campaign.

MetLife went to court seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the campaign, saying it could easily be confused with MetLife's year-old "Have you met life today" campaign.

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