Sacha Baron Cohen Suing Cannabis Dispensary For Using His Borat Image
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Sacha Baron Cohen is suing Massachusetts-based cannabis dispensary Solar Therapeutics for using his Borat character image on a billboard without permission.
After Cohen's legal team sent a cease-and-desist letter to Solar Therapeutics, the company removed the billboard, though the dispensary is apparently not prepared to fork over the $9 million being sought in damages.
According to a lawsuit, filed Monday, Cohen is suing Solar Therapeutics for copyright infringement, false advertising and the misappropriation of his right of publicity over the billboard, which was up on a Massachusetts interstate until its removal, reported People Magazine.
The disputed billboard was an image of Cohen’s hilarious character Borat giving the now-famous thumbs-up, exclaiming "It's Nice!"
Actually…it’s not so nice
Cohen is seeking "market value compensation, statutory treble damages, and punitive and other damages, estimated to be in a total amount of at least $9 million," according to the lawsuit.
"By use of the Billboard, the Defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business," Cohen’s attorney David Condon wrote in the complaint. "To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life. He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money."
The suit claims that Cohen has turned down numerous opportunities to license his name and/or likeness for commercial advertising in the U.S. because he believes in doing so he’d "weaken his credibility as an actor and as a serious social activist."
Insult to injury
Cohen's legal team said that Solar Therapeutics "took a gamble" when it chose to use a photo of Borat under the assumption he would never see the advertisement. While Solar Therapeutics has not responded, one assumes the company is aware enough to realize that due to the speed and reach of social media, Cohen and his legal team would quickly have been made aware of the billboard.
The lawsuit also states that Cohen is "highly protective" of his image and has never allowed his Borat character to be used for advertising or marketing of any product or service anywhere, other than TV series or films involving Borat.
SBC is not down with cannabis
Cohen almost vehemently does not agree with cannabis use.
"With his 'Ali G' character, portrayed by Mr. Baron Cohen in the HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Mr. Baron Cohen has spent much of his career making a mockery of 'stoner' culture – a culture which the Defendants' Billboard overtly celebrates," according to the complaint.