Nader, MasterCard in ad suit

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MasterCard International, Purchase, N.Y., is suing Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader over his latest campaign spot, a parody of MasterCard's "Priceless" campaign. MasterCard filed suit against Mr. Nader Aug. 16 in U.S. District Court in New York seeking $5 million in damages and an injunction to stop the ad. The "Priceless Truth" ad, created by North Woods Advertising, Minneapolis, features footage of the Republican and Democratic tickets with phrases such as "Promises to special interest groups: $10 billion" and "Finding out the truth: Priceless." It parodies the 3-year-old "Priceless" effort from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, which features vignettes showing the price of several items and their "priceless" emotional benefits. " 'Priceless' is a very valuable asset . . . We're very concerned with consumer confusion," said Larry Flanagan, senior VP-marketing at MasterCard. In a statement, Mr. Nader called the suit "an absurd and clumsy abuse of corporate power in an attempt to suppress political speech," and claimed the ad is both a parody and fair political speech that didn't infringe on the "Priceless" copyright. "They should lighten up. They're taking their name 'Master' too seriously. This is America," the candidate said. MasterCard has previously sought to stop parody ads aired by NBC and Home Box Office. NBC pulled its ad after the complaint. MasterCard sued HBO last year over a spot for its series "Arliss." That suit, seeking $15 million in damages for infringing on MasterCard's trademarks and copyrights, is still pending.

Copyright August 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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