San Francisco-based Visa USA is taking American Express to court over alleged infringement of Visa’s deal with Universal Pictures to sponsor its new blockbuster Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Visa claims that Amex featured the Grinch character in a direct-mail campaign to cardholders. The plaintiff’s own campaign, ‘Visa & the Grinch Give Back the Holidays’, was launched last week with direct marketing, internet promotions and outdoor displays, as well as print ads via BBDO Worldwide in New York.

Commented Visa: “The legal action being taken against American Express is to protect Visa's investment in our promotional efforts with 'Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas' and the integrity of our brand overall. We're currently in the process of discussing this issue with American Express representatives and are hopeful that all ambush marketing practices related to the Grinch will cease immediately”.

Amex, on the other hand, refused to comment.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline