Sacha Baron Cohen is suing a Massachusetts company for using his popular “Borat” character and “It’s nice” catchphrase to sell marijuana, a product he doesn’t use.
The British comedian claims cannabis seller Solar Therapeutics failed to seek his permission before slapping an image of Borat — the bumbling Kazakh broadcaster Cohen played in two Hollywood flicks — on a busy highway billboard.
The actor, the lawsuit says, “has never used cannabis” because he “does not believe it is a healthy choice.” Plus, he is “highly protective” of his image and has never allowed the Borat character to appear in advertising.
Cohen “believes such advertising would weaken his credibility as an actor and social activist,” said the suit, adding that the actor once turned down a $4 million offer to appear in a car commercial.
The Massachusetts federal court lawsuit, filed by Cohen and his Please You Can Touch company, claims copyright infringement, false advertising and misappropriation of rights of publicity.
The suit, which claims $9 million in damages, includes as proof a photo of a billboard with Cohen dressed as Borat holding two thumbs up. Next to the image of Borat’s is his catchphase “It’s Nice!” along with a plug for the company’s Somerset location and the words “Happy 4/20,” a reference to the marijuana holiday.
“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 on a busy interstate highway in Massachusetts, to advertise the sale of the defendants’ cannabis products,” the suit says.
A rep for Solar Therapeutics told The Post that the company is aware of the allegations made by Cohen, adding: “Upon receipt of the cease and desist letter from Mr. Cohen’s legal counsel Solar immediately requested that the sign company remove the billboard in question. As there is an active case before the court, we have no further comment at this time.”
The suit notes that Cohen mocks “stoner culture” via his “Ali G” character, which is separate from his “Borat” character, and says that he would never get entangled in supporting a product he deems as “controversial.”
The suit says that Cohen, an observant Jew, doesn’t not want to be “involved” in a “heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs and rules.”
The suit comes on the heels of the satirist’s high-profile mockumentary “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which was released last year on Amazon Prime Video. The movie was a hit, but Cohen has said it will be his last Borat film, citing dangerous moments like crashing a Second Amendment rights rally in Washington state.
Cohen also nabbed his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as activist Abbie Hoffman in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”