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Oral arguments have been scheduled for Friday for the Fox News Channel’s lawsuit against humorist Al Franken. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin set the date after a brief hearing Monday. Last week, Fox sued the former “Saturday Night Live” performer and his publisher, the Penguin Group, to stop them from including “fair and balanced” in the title of his upcoming book. The trademark infringement lawsuit seeks to force Penguin to rename “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” It also asks for unspecified damages. Fox registered “Fair & Balanced” as a trademark in 1998. Penguin, in court papers filed Monday, said the suit is “lacking in merit” and “antithetical to free expression concerns protected by the First Amendment.” So far, the legal action has only helped sell the book, which for the past week has been in the top 10 on Amazon.com. Penguin originally planned a print run of 250,000, but announced Monday that it had ordered an additional 40,000 copies. “The extra printing is definitely a result of the interest generated from the lawsuit,” said Penguin spokeswoman Lisa Johnson. Penguin also moved up the publication date from Sept. 22 to the end of this week, meaning books will likely be on sale by the time of Friday’s hearing. Franken and Bill O’Reilly, the popular Fox news host, have publicly feuded and the lawsuit includes highly personal criticisms. The news channel described Franken, an author and liberal commentator, as “neither a journalist nor a television news personality. He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight.” Fox alleged that Franken was “either intoxicated or deranged” when he attacked the network and O’Reilly at an April press correspondents dinner. The lawsuit also says that Franken has been described as “increasingly unfunny.” “As far as the personal attacks go,” Franken responded last week, “when I read ‘intoxicated or deranged’ and ‘shrill and unstable’ in their complaint, I thought for a moment I was a Fox commentator. “And by the way, a few months ago, I trademarked the word ‘funny.’ So when Fox calls me ‘unfunny,’ they’re violating my trademark. I am seriously considering a countersuit.” Neither Franken nor O’Reilly attended Monday’s hearing. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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