There's apparently a new way to get rich through E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC): You simply sue the discount broker for $100 million.

Believe it or not, that's exactly what Lindsay Lohan is doing. Her camp believes that E*TRADE modeled a character in one of its E*TRADE Baby televised spots after her.

Let's go back to last month's Super Bowl, when E*TRADE introduced a spot in which the company's chatty spokestoddler is having a webcam chat with his girlfriend. He explains that he didn't call her the night before because he was diversifying his portfolio on E*TRADE. She's skeptical.

"And that milkaholic Lindsay wasn't over?" she asks.


That's when Lindsay pops into the screen at the E*TRADE Baby's house and says, "Milk-a-what?"

According to Lohan, one of countless Lindsays on the planet, the baby milkaholic is modeled after her.

It's a pretty ridiculous claim, but if the woman who sued McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) after spilling hot coffee on herself emerged victorious several years ago, I'm not going to rule out Lohan's chances of a legal victory.

The only similarity between Lohan and the E*TRADE character seems to be that they're both babies with limited screen time. But even if Lohan loses this fight, both she and E*TRADE will get what they want. Lohan will be in the news again, and E*TRADE may connect with mainstream audiences on tabloids and

The discount-brokerage industry can use the infusion, too, after starting out the year on a sour note. Rivals Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW) and TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD) missed Wall Street's targets in their latest quarter, and E*TRADE cranked out yet another deficit.

The industry's fortunes brightened last month, when Schwab, TD AMERITRADE, E*TRADE, and Interactive Brokers (Nasdaq: IBKR) posted 21% to 24% spikes in daily average revenue trades in January relative to December. The improvement prompted Goldman Sachs to upgrade Schwab -- just two months after lowering its price target on the three leading discounters -- as well as optionsXpress Holdings (Nasdaq: OXPS) and TradeStation (Nasdaq: TRAD).

So let's give Lohan some credit for going after E*TRADE, now that the industry's prospects are improving. The "Lindsay" accusations seem frivolous to me, but I'm guessing that both Lohan and E*TRADE will milk this one nicely.


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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been trading exclusively through discount brokers since 1990, but he owns no shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.