Actor and social activist Sacha Baron Cohen has brought forward a legal case against cannabis company Solar Therapeutics for using his image in an advertising campaign.
Court documents, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, reveal that Cohen is taking legal action against the company for wilful copyright infringement, false advertising and violation of the Massachusetts statute against misappropriation of rights publicly after the company used his character’s image and catchphrase “It’s Nice” on a commercial billboard.
The document claims that Solar Therapeutics knowingly misappropriated the image to increase revenue, noting the company “took a gamble” by thinking that Baron Cohen would not see the advert.
Baron Cohen is “highly protective of his image and persona, and those of his characters” and has never taken part in advertising any commercial products in the US or the UK, despite having ample opportunity to do so, having once turned down a $4m deal to advertise a car.
The document further highlights that Baron Cohen does not believe cannabis is a healthy choice, pointing out that one of his characters Ali G, from TV series Da Ali G Show, “made a mockery of stoner culture”. Additionally, it states that Baron Cohen is an observant Jew born into an Orthodox Jewish family, and does not want to be embroiled in the Jewish debate on whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs and rules.
The document goes on to note that people in the US are still being imprisoned for the sale of the products that Solar Therapeutics is advertising, and that the Biden Administration recently terminated White House staff members for once using cannabis.
Baron Cohen is seeking market value compensation, statutory treble damages, and punitive and other damages, which is estimated at a value of $9m. He is seeking the compensation for both himself and his company PYCT, which is the owner of all applicable copyright and other intellectual property interests in the Borat character.
Solar Therapeutics have not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing.