Sony and Columbia Tristar, makers of the new Spiderman movie, have been sued for digitally altering a billboard sign located in New York’s Times Square to superimpose an advert for USA Today over an ad for Samsung, a Sony rival.

The lawsuit is being brought by Sherwood 48 Associates, the owner of the Times Square building, and Super Sign, a billboard business. The lawsuit claims unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and trespass.

Sherwood and Super Sign claim that their sign at Two Times Square, measuring 45 feet high by 40 feet wide, is “the world’s premier advertising space.” The lawsuit argues:

“Due to the unbelievable exposure and residual value of the advertisements, Two Times Square often constitutes the centrepiece of a corporation’s advertising and branding campaigns. If [Sony and Columbia’s] conduct is allowed to continue, it is less likely that major corporations and advertisers will contract for advertising space at Two Times Square, 1600 Broadway, or Sherwood’s other properties because the amount of exposure and, therefore, the residual value of their advertising, will be diminished.”

It also contends that current advertisers now wrongly believe that Sherwood is selling the same ad space to different advertisers in different mediums.

The modified sign appears three times in a recently released trailer for the movie. The lawsuit seeks a court order for the destruction of all copies of the movie trailer showing the amended sign and an order against any further amendments of its ads, in addition to compensatory and punitive damages.

The movie is due for release in the US on 3rd May.