A federal judge in Salt Lake City has ordered Britney Spears to explain why she failed to respond to a pre-emptive lawsuit filed by a drug maker, who claim the pop star's lawyers threatened to sue the

A federal judge in Salt Lake City has ordered Britney Spears to explain why she failed to respond to a pre-emptive lawsuit filed by a drug maker, who claim the pop star's lawyers threatened to sue them for using her image without permission.

The complaint originated in a moment of clumsiness, when Spears was seen spilling a bottle of a drug called Zantrex-3 at London's Heathrow airport in October 2003 and scrambling to pick up the pills. The fumble was captured by a flock of paparazzi, and London's Daily Express devoted a whole page to the incident.

A trio of Utah companies behind the drug capitalized on the accident by invoking Spears in advertising on its Web site, but they claimed Spears' lawyers ordered them to stop citing the episode to market the diet pill or they would be sued.

Zoller Laboratories LLC, DG Enterprises and Basic Research LLC are asking a federal judge to declare they have violated no federal or state law with their marketing practices. Their lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court last November, but it took months to finally serve Spears with the papers.

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell on Tuesday ordered Spears to explain why she failed to respond to the complaint by the Sept. 1 deadline. The pop star has until Oct. 22 to reply to that order.

If she fails, Zoller and companies will win a declaration approving their actions by default.


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