Sacha Baron Cohen has filed a lawsuit against a US cannabis company for using his Borat character in a billboard ad.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Baron Cohen is seeking at least AUD $12 million (USD $9m) in damages over a billboard that was placed on a main highway in Massachusetts.
Within the lawsuit, Baron Cohen has accused cannabis company Solar Therapeutics of copyright infringement and false advertising for featuring the character of Borat giving a thumbs up alongside the caption “it’s nice!”.
“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 lawyer David Condon wrote in the suit (via The Hollywood Reporter).
“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.”
Elsewhere in the complaint, Condon claimed that the company had taken “a gamble” in the hope that Baron Cohen wouldn’t find out about the ad. He also went on to reveal that Baron Cohen had turned down “countless opportunities” to feature in advertisements so that he wouldn’t “weaken his credibility as an actor and a serious social activist”.
On top of that, he said that Baron Cohen’s status as an “Observant Jew” who is “proud of his cultural heritage” means that he doesn’t want to be a part of the “heated controversy” over whether cannabis can be “used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules”.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cohen and his team have sent a cease-and-desist letter to Solar Therapeutics, who have removed the billboard but declined to compensate him for the unauthorised use of the image.
Check out the ad placed by cannabis company Solar Therapeutics featuring Borat:
Sacha Baron Cohen, the star behind “Borat”, is suing cannabis company Solar Therapeutics after they plastered his image on a billboard to promote their brand. Cohen says the company did so w/o his permission and claims he’s never used cannabis before, in part due to his faith. pic.twitter.com/uzBql6uvQt
— Melissa Angell (@melissajourno) July 12, 2021