The lawsuit claims a highway advertisement misappropriated his likeness as Borat and states the actor’s distaste for all things marijuana
Sacha Baron Cohen has sued a Massachusetts cannabis company for $9 million, claiming it exploited his likeness and fame on a highway billboard by using an image of his movie character, Borat, and a Borat-coined phrase.
In a lawsuit photo of the billboard, featured at the top of this story, the familiar Borat movie line, “It’s nice,” appears atop the logo-branded name of the company and the words “Happy 4/20,” a reference to the so-called marijuana holiday.
“This is an action for willful copyright infringement, false advertising, and violation of the Massachusetts statute against misappropriation of rights of publicity,” the lawsuit states. “Without permission of any kind, the Defendants deliberately featured the portrait, picture, image, likeness, and persona of Mr. Baron Cohen and his “Borat” movie character in a commercial billboard (the “Billboard”) on a busy interstate highway in Massachusetts, to advertise the sale of the Defendants’ cannabis products.”
TheWrap has reached out to the company named as the defendant, Solar Therapeutics Inc., of Somerset, Massachusetts, and will update this story with any response.
In supporting information, the lawsuit says Baron Cohen does not use cannabis because “he does not believe it is a healthy choice.”
It further states: “Moreover, the sale and distribution of cannabis remains a federal crime everywhere in the United States, including Massachusetts. United States citizens continue to be prosecuted and imprisoned by federal law enforcement agents and courts for selling or using the products that the Defendants are advertising and selling. Most recently, this year the Biden Administration terminated a number of White House staffers simply because they once used cannabis.”
“For all of the above reasons, cannabis remains a controversial product that Mr. Baron Cohen has no interest in endorsing, promoting, or advertising,” the lawsuit says. “He would be appalled if his young children were to discover, mistakenly or otherwise, that he was associated with the promotion of cannabis.”
The last year has been one of the biggest for Baron Cohen’s career. His latest Borat movie, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was a hit for Amazon Prime, and he earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” an award that ultimately went to Daniel Kaluuya for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
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