Sacha Baron Cohen Suing Cannabis Company For Unauthorized Use Of Borat

It turns Borat is not a big fan of weed! A particular cannabis company wanted to use him to promote its products. Sacha Baron Cohen was not happy to find one of his most iconic characters plastered up on a Billboard promoting cannabis use. He is now taking legal action against Solar Therapeutics. The company that used his character to promote their cannabis-related products. According to Cohen’s legal team, neither the actor nor his company was ever approached by Solar Therapeutics. Here are a few tips for people who were thinking about using Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters in the future!

Was There A Whistle-Blower In All Of This?

User Skssoft on de.wikipedia; Michael Bulcik / SKS Soft GmbH Düsseldorf, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Sacha Baron Cohen’s legal team is effectively filing a lawsuit for the illegal use of the likeness of one of Cohen’s characters. According to them, the company called Solar Therapeutics took a gamble knowing that these could be the consequences. The question remains though, who told Sacha Baron Cohen about the billboard? The company is headquartered in Somerset Massachusetts. This makes it highly unlikely that Sacha himself was riding down the freeway when he saw the sign. In any case, he wants 9 million dollars in compensation!

Sacha Baron Cohen Is Not A Fan Of Weed

Celebrities arrive at the annual GQ Magazine Men of the Year Awards held at Tate Modern Art GalleryCelebrities arrive at the annual GQ Magazine Men of the Year Awards held at Tate Modern Art Gallery

One of the weirdest parts of the complaint may be the fact that Cohen references his Jewish faith as the reason why he was so upset about this copyright infringement. For a bit of context, many of Borat’s jokes revolve around making fun of jews! It turns out though that because of his Jewish upbringing Cohen was appalled at the fact that his character was being used to promote weed. A statement presented to the court read,

“Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; 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.”

Forget About Using Sacha Baron Cohen Characters In Your Advertising

Kevin Tostado from San Diego, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another key point that we found in the lawsuit is that Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t necessarily interested in doing commercials with his characters. Although he has broken that rule before specifically with Ali G. His team mentioned that he has had many offers to use his characters to do ads. However, this is not something that he is actively pursuing. In his eyes potentially seeing too much of the character could be detrimental to his movies and shows. The complaint reads,

“Mr. Baron Cohen has turned down countless opportunities to license his name and/or likeness for other commercial advertising in the United States. He believes such advertising would weaken his credibility as an actor and as a serious social activist,”

What Ultimately Happened To The Billboard?

Joella Marano, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At this point, the billboard has been effectively taken down. However, Solar Therapeutics is understandably not keen to write Sacha Baron Cohen a 9 million dollar check. Potentially, that’s the main reason that news of the incident came out in the first place. Sacha Baron Cohen’s team is going to push forward with the lawsuit to seek what they feel is fair compensation. Meanwhile, Solar Therapeutics is pretty much fighting for their lives at this point. Having to dish out 9 million dollars would most likely see them go bankrupt!

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