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The turf war between Nu Skin International of Provo and an Oregon competitor took an ugly twist this week when Nu Skin filed a complaint in federal court accusing the Oregon company of circulating brochures that implied Nu Skin's products carry HIV, the AIDS-causing virus.

Nu Skin amended an existing suit against the company to include allegations that the company has made false claims about its own product and unfairly derided Nu Skin products in its literature.Nu Skin has amended its complaint against Images & Attitude Inc.; Thomas Mower; Barry Steed (also known as Barry Mower); individuals doing business as: Great Images, Images & Attitude and Images International; Glen Tillotson; and Margie Hunsaker.

According to the complaint, Images & Attitude Inc. and its co-defendants distributed a letter which "implies that certain Nu Skin products contain the HIV virus," the complaint said. The virus in the bloodstream can cause AIDS.

"There isn't one thing in any of our current literature that says that," said Images & Attitude President Thomas Mower, adding that his company's commercial literature has been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.

But Nu Skin claims the letter also says that consumers would be "much better off if you used plain soap and water rather than Nu Skin's cosmetic line" and that one's skin "would be healthier and it wouldn't age as fast," the complaint said.

Nu Skin also accused Images & Attitude of falsely claiming that its own products would "regrow hair lost as a result of baldness, repair and remove scars and wrinkles, repair aged skin and slow and reverse skin aging, remove cellulite and fatty tissue, affect and regulate the cellular biochemical process and prevent and cure acne."

Nu Skin seeks unspecified damages and a court order prohibiting Images & Attitude from making false statements about itself and Nu Skin.

Nu Skin also accuses the company of stealing Nu Skin's trade secrets and using them to compete with Nu Skin.

Images has lured Nu Skin distributors away with false, deceptive and defamatory information about Nu Skin, the complaint said.

Images seeks to "gain an unfair and unlawful market share at the expense of Nu Skin" the complaint said.

Mower said Images' marketing plan is more rewarding than Nu Skin's, which attracts Nu Skin distributors.

"This is a free-market enterprise. They have the right to choose," Mower said.

Of the hundreds of new distributors Images signs up each day, "lots and lots" are Nu Skin distributors, he said.

Nu Skin wants that stopped. The company is also seeking a court order prohibiting Images from interfering with Nu Skin's distributors.