Actor and filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen and his company, Please You Can Touch, LLC, filed suit against Somerset cannabis shop Solar Therapeutics and Edward Dow III, Solar’s President and Director, accusing the defendants of violating Cohen’s statutory rights of publicity, false endorsement under the Lanham Act, and copyright infringement. Solar put a billboard along the Mass. Pike featuring a picture of Cohen as his “Borat” movie character with two thumbs up, along with hiss catch phrase “It’s Nice” in an advertisement for Solar’s marijuana products. Cohen, who says he has never used cannabis, has spent much of his career mocking stoner culture, and does not believe others should use it. As such, Cohen says he did not authorize the use of his image by Solar and that he would never associate himself with cannabis. He also notes that he does not provide endorsements for any product, much less one as controversial as cannabis, and for tis reason, the measure of damages should be significantly higher than simply what a different celebrity might have charged for making the endorsement. The copyright claim is brought by Cohen’s company, Please You Can Touch, which owns a federally registered copyright in the Borat character. While Solar took the billboard down in response to a cease and desist letter, Cohen seeks actual and punative damages and a permanent injunction prohibiting any such action in the future.
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