Sacha Baron Cohen Sues Cannabis Brand For Borat ‘It’s Nice!’ Billboard
Comedy actor Sacha Baron Cohen is suing a cannabis company for using an image of his best-known character, Borat, on its billboard.
The Massachusetts interstate billboard bears a pic of the fictional Kazakhstani reporter giving a thumbs up and declaring, ‘It’s Nice!’
Baron Cohen is reportedly now suing Solar Therapeutics for copyright infringement and false advertising, as well as misappropriation of his right of publicity.
In this complaint, which has been obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Baron Cohen’s attorney David Condon wrote that ‘the Defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business’.
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.
Baron Cohen, who has reportedly refused ‘countless’ corporate brand deals so as not to risk damaging his credibility as an actor and advocate for social justice issues, claims that Solar Therapeutics ‘took a gamble’ as it assumed he wouldn’t find out about the billboard in question.
As per this lawsuit, Baron Cohen is ‘highly protective of his image and persona, and those of his characters’ and is also ‘very careful with which he uses his persona and his characters to interact with his fans and the general public’.
The complaint then goes on to assert that Baron Cohen ‘has spent much of his career making a mockery of ‘stoner’ culture – a culture which the Defendants’ billboard overtly celebrates’:
In addition, Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; and he is proud of his cultural heritage.
He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules.
Solar Therapeutics has said that the billboard was removed after Baron Cohen’s legal representative sent over a cease-and-desist letter, however the company has declined to compensate the actor for using the image of Borat without first getting his permission.
Baron Cohen reportedly regards the infringement as wilful, and will therefore be seeking trebled statutory damages on top of actual and punitive damages plus disgorgement of all profits attributed to the billboard, estimated to add up to at least $9 million.
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CreditsThe Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter