Taco Bell has filed a recent countersuit against 50 Cent, who filed his own suit in July that claimed the fast food giant used his likeness in a hip-hop themed ad campaign without his permission and without paying him.
In papers obtained by TMZ, the fast-food chain is calling his previously filed federal lawsuit, another attempt to “burnish his gangsta rapper persona by distorting beyond all recognition a bona fide, good faith offer.”
The suit claims that 50 (real name: Curtis Jackson) has used his “colorful” past to cultivate an image of “belligerence and arrogance,” and says he has a “well-publicized track record for making threats, starting feuds and filing lawsuits,” while also painting himself as a charitable person who gives back to his community.
Taco Bell argues that their offer to donate $10,000 to the charity of 50’s choice and give the restaurant’s patrons free food if 50 showed up at any Taco Bell restaurant and “rapped an order in the drive thru using the name 79 Cent, 89 Cent or 99 Cent,” was made in earnest.
The legal action taken on both sides stems from a fake open letter sent out by Taco Bell Corp. asking 50 Cent to change his name for one day to 79 Cent, 89 Cent or 99 Cent to help publicize its value menu.
The suit claims that the “humorous but sincere” letter it sent to 50 had an obvious “jovial spirit,” but with a serious underlying offer.
“The challenge — asking Jackson to temporarily change his name … for charity — was a soft ridicule and good-natured lampoon of the rapper’s moniker, 50 Cent, and his public image as a gangsta rapper,” the suit reads.
They also claim the letter from Taco Bell’s president was not used in ads, that 50’s name was never used in an ad campaign, and that “celebrity challenges are notable and newsworthy and reported in the media.”
In a statement given to MTV this week, Fiddy’s attorney, Peter Raymond, said: “Mr. Jackson filed this lawsuit to protect his valuable trademark and privacy rights against infringers like Taco Bell, who seek to make money using his name without his permission. Mr. Jackson intends to demonstrate that Taco Bell and its affiliated companies have used this same infringing tactic before by issuing press releases using other celebrities’ names, such as Rihanna, Chris Brown, Fergie and Paris Hilton. Mr. Jackson believes that Taco Bell needs to be stopped. With this recent court filing, Taco Bell has not only misappropriated Mr. Jackson’s name, but they have now defamed his character in a desperate attempt to defend their improper actions. Mr. Jackson intends to vigorously pursue this case.”