Actor Sacha Baron Cohen is suing a Massachusetts cannabis dispensary over a billboard featuring an image of his character from the movie "Borat," court documents show.
He said the Somerset dispensary, Solar Therapeutics, Inc., plastered the persona on the billboard without his permission for weeks, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
Baron Cohen, along with his California-based company Please You Can Touch LLC, is now suing the dispensary and its owner, Edward Dow III, for at least $9 million, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
“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,” the document states. “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.”
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Baron Cohen was shown posing on the billboard as Borat with two thumbs up and the words “It’s nice!” — one of the Borat character's catchphrases.
The billboard along a Massachusetts highway was taken down in April, three days after Baron Cohen’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist order to the dispensary, according to the suit.
“Mr. Baron Cohen is highly protective of his image and persona, and those of his characters. Mr. Baron Cohen is very careful with the manner in which he uses his persona and his characters to interact with his fans and the general public,” the complaint says.
No attorney for Solar Therapeutics Inc. was listed in court records. Email and telephone requests for comment were left with the company Tuesday.