03/13/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
The wheels of justice are in motion: Footwear company Skechers USA is fighting back against Britney Spears after the pop princess sued the firm last year over an agreement to design and sell custom Britney roller skates.
Now, Skechers has filed a countersuit claiming fraud and breach of contract relating to product designs and advertising for the never-to-be Britney 4 Wheelers skates and apparel, the Associated Press reports.
Spears, 21, sued Skechers in L.A.'s U.S. District Court on Dec. 26 for more than $1.5 million, claiming the company used her to plug its own roller-skate line rather than the skates that she had designed.
But Skechers says it was "continuously shut down, rejected and ignored," a representative of the company tells AP. In its complaint, Skechers says Spears fraudulently induced them into sponsoring her 2001-2002 concert tour in return for getting the merchandise license.
Spears's lawyer, Michael Friedman, released a statement calling the countersuit a "ludicrous attempt to distract the court and the general public from the real issue: Skechers failed to meet their financial obligations to Ms. Spears."
Her lawyers previously claimed that Skechers hired Spears on Sept. 1, 2001 to endorse its products, with the contract stipulating that she would receive a bonus royalty payment if her employment helped boost sales significantly.
According to Spears's suit, she did help sales in 2001, but she was only partially compensated for it -- and the deal to sell Britney brand skates and skating accessories unraveled after Skechers was unable to find a manufacturer and a means to market her line.
The suit similarly claimed that Skechers reneged on a written agreement to sponsor her concert tour.
"Skechers USA used the lure of association with Ms. Spears to benefit sales of their own branded products and failed to honor basic agreements with Britney Brands," attorney Jonathan Solish wrote in the lawsuit.