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‘Dirty Dancing’ Ad Spoof Spurs Federal Suit

MANHATTAN (CN) - Lionsgate threatened a multimillion lawsuit over an advertisement of a man lifting a piggy bank over the tagline "Nobody puts your old 401(k) in the corner," TD Ameritrade claims in court.

The securities broker filed the federal complaint against Lions Gate Entertainment on Friday, joined by its ad company Havas Worldwide New York, seeking to "put to rest the baseless, overreaching claims" that they must pay a "seven-figure" license fee to avoid a trademark lawsuit.

Counsel for Lionsgate asserted as much in an April 2 letter that said the line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" was "one of the most (if not the most) famous lines of 'Dirty Dancing.'"

In the iconic 1987 film, Baby is the name of the character played by Jennifer Gray.

After Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze, delivers the line, he pulls Baby on stage where the pair dance to "Time of My Life."

TD Ameritrade's ad uses the cartoon to evoke how Johnny hoists Baby into the air as the music swells in that scene.

Though the Canadian bank's U.S. subsidiary claims that there is "no evidence that anyone was confused" by its ad campaign, Lionsgate allegedly insisted that the ads "infringed or diluted Lionsgate's trademark rights or constituted some form of unfair competition."

TD Ameritrade's ad campaign ended in April and says Lionsgate does not own a federal trademark registration for the phrase "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner."

The producer filed three applications for the line on Sept. 6, 2014, alleging "an intent to use the mark on a range of collateral goods related to the motion picture, such as books and other paper-based items, clothing, and household items, but state no intent to use the mark on or in connection with financial services, or services of any kind," the complaint states.

Lionsgate's applications reveal that the phrase is already being used for "blank journals, postcards, posters, stickers, shirts and tops, infantware, beverageware and plastic water bottles," TD Ameritrade and Havas note.

They want a federal judge to declare that they have not infringed upon Lionsgate's rights.

The plaintiffs are represented by Andrew Baum with Foley & Lardner.

Lionsgate has not returned a request for comment.

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