As ad campaigns grow increasingly brutal, many companies are turning to the courts to challenge their competitors' claims. "In this economy ... a lot of marketing departments have decided to become more aggressive in going after their competitors in the hopes that they can either protect their market position or capture additional market share," says advertising lawyer John E. Villafranco. Still, it's a high-risk strategy: experts say that high-profile legal fights between competitors risk turning consumers against both brands.

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