50 Cent Sues Taco Bell

todayJuly 24, 2008 1

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NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Rapper Curtis Jackson, who performs under the stage name 50 Cent, sued Yum Brands Inc.’s (YUM) Taco Bell Corp. on Wednesday for allegedly using his name, persona and trademarks in a nationwide advertising campaign without his permission.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleges Taco Bell drafted a fake letter it purported asks Jackson to change his name to “79 Cent,” “89 Cent” or “99 Cent” in order to publicize its “79-89-99 Cent Why Pay More Value Menu.”

The restaurant chain allegedly released the letter to the national press in June before sending it to Jackson, the complaint said. The letter reads “like a poorly written voice-over for one of Taco Bell’s television commercials,” the lawsuit said.

“Thus, without authorization, Taco Bell traded on the name of the world’s biggest hip-hop star to draw attention to its new hip-hop-based advertising campaign, and thereby generated massive publicity for its business,” the lawsuit said.

As part of the campaign, the chain’s Web site included a “Rap Name Creator,” which allowed users to see what their rap name would be, and offered a “Why Pay Mo’ Rhyme Generator,” which played hip-hop music and displayed a montage of hip- hop-themed scenes, according to the complaint.

“Simply put, Taco Bell knew that it would likely have had to pay Jackson a multi-million-dollar fee to get his endorsement, even if he had agreed to do it – which is in doubt,” the lawsuit said. “Rather than face rejection or pay fair value, Taco Bell chose to steal his endorsement and to enjoy all the publicity of being associated with a mega-star while bearing none of the costs.”

The complaint claims Jackson limits his endorsement “to products of the highest quality” and has demanded any endorsement deals permit him to “maintain strict control over the manner in which his name, likeness and trademarks are used.”

Jackson claims the letter damaged his reputation as a hip-hop performer “by associating him with the pedestrian rap lyrics and hip-hop-themed games” on Taco Bell’s Web site. The lawsuit also said he has been criticized on blogs for ” selling out” because consumers believe he has endorsed Taco Bell as a result of the letter.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Source: CNN

Written by: jahknoradio

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