NU Online News Service, May 2, 7:06 p.m. – The Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, went to court today to block CuresNow, Washington, from using the Harry and Louise characters in its television commercials.

CuresNow has been running the commercials on network television to fight congressional efforts to ban human cloning research.

HIAA has also sued CuresNow to stop the group from using the Harry and Louise characters on the CuresNow Web site.

Harry and Louise became famous in 1993, when they appeared in a series of HIAA commercials that opposed President Clinton’s health care reform proposals.

“The Harry and Louise appearing in these commercials are indistinguishable from the Harry and Louise that have represented the health insurance industry for the past decade,” Dr. Donald Young, HIAA president, says in a statement discussing his group’s suit. “We have a legitimate business interest in protecting our image.”

HIAA is worried the CuresNow commercials create the impression that it has taken a public stand on the cloning research issue, Young says.

HIAA argues in its suit that HIAA still owns the Harry and Louise characters, based on nearly 10 years of continuous usage.

HIAA features Harry and Louise on its Web site, and it is now using the characters in newspaper ads, HIAA says.

But Ben Goddard, the founding partner of Goddard Clausssen Porter Novelli, Washington, the advertising agency that developed the commercials, says he does not believe HIAA has formally registered “Harry & Louise” as a trademark.

Besides, Goddard says, “Harry” and “Louise” are two real actors: Harry Johnson and Louise Caire Clark.

Johnson and Clark were under contract for the HIAA commercials for only two years, and they appeared in the cloning research commercials because they believe cloning research will help medical research, Goddard says.