Actor Sacha Baron Cohen is suing US company Solar Therapeutics over their alleged use of his character Borat in a billboard ad.
Borat is one of Baron Cohen’s most iconic characters, having featured in two films: Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and its sequel Borat Susequent Moviefilm.
Baron Cohen is suing the company for copyright infringement, false advertising and misappropriation of his right of publicity, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The billboard, which was displayed in the US state of Massachusetts, depicted the Borat character in his signature thumbs up stance, saying “it’s nice!”.
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen is suing a Somerset, MA cannabis dispensary for $9 million over THIS ⤵️ billboard (picture from court paperwork filed Monday)
The lawsuit says Solar Therapeutics used the actor’s “Borat” character without permission.
— Kayla Fish (@KaylaFishTV) July 13, 2021
Solar Therapeutics is a Massachusets-based cannabis dispensary and, according to its website, America’s “first energy-independent cannabis cultivation facility.”
In the official complaint, filed to the Boston U.S. District Court, Baron Cohen’s attorney David Condon wrote that the defendents had falsley “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.”
Condon went on to note in the complaint that, “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.”
“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.”
According to NBC Boston, Baron Cohen is suing for at least US$9 million in damages.
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