FOX News Drops Suit Against Franken

updated 08/26/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/26/2003 10:49AM

Al Franken is off the hook. FOX News has dropped its trademark-infringement lawsuit against the humorist and his publisher, Penguin Group, over Franken's new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right," Reuters reports.

Franken's book, which targets FOX and one of its TV commentators, Bill O'Reilly, angered the network by using the phrase "Fair and Balanced," which FOX News has trademarked as its own tagline. FOX argued in court last week that Franken's title and book cover could mislead readers into believing that FOX or O'Reilly backed the publication.

The lawsuit was originally intended to block sales of the book, but it has instead sent the volume soaring up Amazon.com's bestseller chart. Penguin's Dutton unit said it nearly doubled Franken's original print run -- from 270,000 to 510,000 -- due to the increased demand.

Meanwhile, the network was running into both ridicule and legal doubt over its own claim to the phrase. A federal judge on Friday refused to grant FOX's motion to block sales of the Franken book.

In discussing the network's decision to abandon the suit, a network spokeswoman said, "It's time to return Al Franken back to the normal obscurity he's accustomed to."

Franken, an Emmy-winning veteran of "Saturday Night Live," has written four previous books, including the best-selling "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot."

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