NEW YORK -- Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates is boasting that the software giant will spend $300 million to promote the latest version of its Internet service.
He may have underestimated by just a bit.
After plastering city sidewalks, streets and other public property with butterfly-shaped advertising decals, New York City has sent Microsoft a $50 summons.
City officials in New York, Chicago and San Francisco have fought back against similar illegal "guerrilla" ad campaigns by IBM, Snapple and Nike.
In April, IBM paid San Francisco $120,000 in fines and cleanup costs for an ad campaign in which sidewalks were spray-painted with ads. Chicago also fined the computer maker for similar corporate graffiti.
In New York, municipal workers removed hundreds of Microsoft decals on Thursday and planned to remove hundreds more on Friday, said Transportation Department spokesman Tom Cocola.
"We intend to hold your firm directly responsible for this illegal, irresponsible and dangerous defacing of public property," Cesar Fernandez, the department's assistant counsel, said in a letter to Microsoft.
Fernandez said Microsoft could be sued if it sticks more ads on city property.
A public relations spokeswoman for Microsoft, Kathy Gill of the Waggener Edstrom agency, said the software company received a city permit to place the blue, green, orange and yellow butterflies on streets and sidewalks.
Gill didn't say which city agency issued the permit, and Cocola said the DOT has not seen it.
The decals were part of a splashy promotional campaign for the company's release of an upgraded MSN Internet service stocked with Disney's content.
Many of the decals were clustered on sidewalks near Central Park, where Gates and Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner announced the deal Thursday.
"It's a real coup," Gates said during the kickoff spectacle, flanked by Eisner and a pair of extras in Mickey and Minnie Mouse suits. Pop star Lenny Kravitz played an invitation-only concert at the event.
Neither mentioned the sidewalk decals, which seemed to mimic the New York promotions by Nike and Snapple.