FOX News Squares Off with Al Franken

08/12/2003 at 03:52 PM EDT

Don't invite satirist Al Franken and FOX News chairman Roger Ailes to the same buffet table.

Ailes's network is suing the liberal humorist and his book publisher, the Penguin Group, to halt them from using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of Franken's upcoming book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

A trademark infringement suit, filed Monday in Manhattan's State Supreme Court, seeks a court order forcing a Penguin imprint, Dutton books, to rename the book and asks for unspecified damages, reports the Associated Press.

In its legal papers, FOX News claims to have registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark, and goes on to say that Franken's "intent is clear -- to exploit FOX News's trademark, confuse the public as to the origins of the book and, accordingly, boost sales of the book."

Franken has long taken jabs at the FOX News folks, and he recently got into a shouting match with commentator Bill O'Reilly during a public appearance.

Franken, 52, who is used to calling people names (a previous bestseller of his was called "Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot"), is also called "a parasite," a "C-level" talking head and "increasingly unfunny" in FOX's court documents, reports New York's Daily News.

Franken has not been reached for comment, but Dutton spokeswoman Lisa Johnson, speaking to AP, accused FOX News's parent company, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., of trying to suppress the book.

"The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American," she said.

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