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Rogers suing Bell Canada over cartoon ad.

Rogers communications in Canada is suing their competitor Bell Canada over this cheetah ad because it and other Bell ads "disparage, denigrate, discredit, tarnish, diminish, and otherwise depreciate" its brand.

"Bell is disparaging our brand," John Boynton, chief marketing officer at Rogers Wireless, said in a phone interview. He later said: "The cheetah did not beat the rabbit in a race showing speed, the cheetah swallowed the rabbit and barfed it up."

more on the lawsuit here

The high-stakes battle for cellphone supremacy in Canada took on a nasty tone yesterday when Rogers Communications Inc. launched a lawsuit against nemesis BCE Inc. for trademark defamation over a series of ads Rogers calls "high-handed, oppressive and malicious."

The high-stakes battle for cellphone supremacy in Canada took on a nasty tone yesterday when Rogers Communications Inc. launched a lawsuit against nemesis BCE Inc. for trademark defamation over a series of ads Rogers calls "high-handed, oppressive and malicious."

Rogers says Bell, the country's largest telecommunications provider, is using its trademarks unfairly in national ads that denigrate the quality of its cellphone services.

One contentious Bell ad features a cheetah, meant to symbolize Bell Mobility's wireless high-speed service, who eats and regurgitates a hare that is meant to represent Rogers. After the hare is regurgitated, a cellphone screen displays the statement: "New high-speed network 5x faster than Rogers."

The ad, created by Vancouver-based agency Rethink, "clearly and incorrectly" suggests Rogers rival service is "unworthy, and repulsive," and "inferior in quality," Rogers alleges in a statement of claim filed with the Federal Court of Canada yesterday.

Other ads that ran in papers over the past year depict Rogers-like phones being flushed down a urinal while others are swept up by street sweepers.

"These actions by Bell are high-handed, oppressive and malicious," Rogers said in the claim. "Bell's activities form a pattern of targeting Rogers and disparaging the Rogers brand and trademarks."

Rogers alleges Bell's ads helped its rival "improperly and unlawfully" move customers to its new wireless network, which was launched in October. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Rogers wants Bell to stop using Rogers trademarks and the disputed ads immediately, pay legal costs and unspecified damages.

John Boynton, chief marketing officer with Rogers Wireless Inc., said the company will up its demands if Bell doesn't comply.

"If they continue to run the ads, the damage to the brand will continue and damages will increase," he said. "It is mathematical."

In a written response to Rogers on Jan. 25, Bell denied any wrongdoing. The ads are aired on national TV stations, including The Sports Network and Global.

Bell said it's reviewing the lawsuit and declined to comment further. The company has 30 days to file a statement of defence.

The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle for customers between the country's largest telecommunications providers. Rogers launched a cheaper, rival home phone service to compete against Bell last year, adding to its competing suite of services that includes Internet and television.

Rogers Wireless, which has five million subscribers, became the country's largest cellphone provider when it bought Microcell Telecommunications Inc. for $1.4-billion in November, 2004. Not long after Bell Mobility's reputation took a hit because of a messy 18-month billing system overhaul that left some customers without bills for months while others were charged twice.

Meanwhile, Bell has been trying to loosen Rogers stranglehold on the Ontario TV market with its ExpressVu satellite TV service through regulatory means. Bell filed complaints with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last year to gain access to buildings where Rogers dominates.

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