With cannabis sales increasingly becoming legal in the United States (and beyond), there’s seemingly a shop on every corner in some cities, and that goes for billboards, too. When it comes to Borat mastermind Sacha Baron Cohen, however, he’s setting the record straight after a cannabis company tossed the character’s likeness onto a billboard for the heck of it. Cohen has filed a lawsuit against Solar Therapeutics for their billboard (posted next to a Massachusetts highway) that features the satirical character doing his thumbs-up gesture with an “It’s Nice!”
News of the botching of the “Very Nice!” slogan arrives courtesy of Hollywood Reporter, which published excerpts from the lawsuit. In the filed documents, Cohen alleges that the company committed copyright infringement and false advertising, among other civil wrongs, and there’s another detail worth mentioning — Cohen wishes to make it very clear that neither he nor Borat would ever endorse cannabis. “To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life,” the lawsuit penned by attorney David Condon reads. “He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money.”
Here’s more from Hollywood Reporter:
“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,” writes Condon in the complaint, which is embedded below. “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.”
Yep, this lawsuit apparently suggests that the defendants aren’t wholly familiar with Cohen’s body of work. That’s a slam if there ever was one, but as for the lawsuit itself? More than fair enough. As with any other product, Cohen’s entitled to crack down on the unauthorized use of his likeness and ask for monetary compensation (which he’s doing) after the billboard’s removal. He’s doing just that, including not only “statutory damages plus actual and punitive damages and disgorgement of profits attributable to the billboard.” In other words, Solar Therapeutics surely won’t have a “very nice” time with this matter.
(Via Hollywood Reporter)