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McDonald's Corp., the fast-food chain operator, has filed a...

MIAMI -- McDonald's Corp., the fast-food chain operator, has filed a federal lawsuit against Burger King, a rival, charging that a planned $20-million advertising campaign maligns the burgers that are cooked under the golden arches.

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, charged the Burger King commercials were 'false, deceptive, disparaging, unfair and misleading.'

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McDonald's asked the court to stop the ads before their scheduled start Monday.

John Weir, a spokesman for Miami-based Burger King, said his company stands by the ads.

'Every one of the assertions made in the advertisements can be substantiated,' Weir said. 'The campaign will be launched as scheduled.'

Burger King's ads claim McDonald's regular hamburgers weigh 20 percent less than Burger King's before cooking. Big Macs and Whoppers are not mentioned.

One distinction between the two burger giants, says the multi-media campaign prepared by the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, is that Burger King 'flame grills' its burgers while McDonald's fries the beef patties. The ads say most people prefer Burger King's offering to Wendy's, another food shop chain, and McDonald's.

McDonald's countered that Burger King doesn't always flame grill its burgers, sometimes steaming the meat or using a microwave oven. The suit said Burger King planned to 'intentionally and maliciously' mislead the public.

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Wendy's also dislikes the ad campaign, but did not join the suit. Sid Rudolph, chairman of Wendicorp Miami Inc., said, 'We're mad and justifiably so. We think they must be in pretty bad shape if they must stoop to misleading advertising.'

McDonald's dominates the fast-food burger business. The company reported $7 billion in revenues last year, while Burger King came in second with $2.3 billion. Wendy's was No. 3 with $493 million in revenues.

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