BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – The rapper 50 Cent complains in a federal complaint that various businesses used his image without permission after he paid to customize his cars.
A Rolls Royce and Bentley are at the heart of the Nov. 28 complaint, which the Grammy-winning artist filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York under his birth name, Curtis Jackson III.
Living in Connecticut, 50 Cent says he went to the Queens business Phenomenal Vinyl earlier this year to put a blue “wrap” on his Rolls Royce.
50 paid $8,000 for the job, with clear instructions that Vinyl not use any photographs of him on the internet.
When 50 approached Phenomenal again in March, he wanted a gold wrap on his Bentley Mulsanne, plus Forgiato-branded rims on that vehicle’s wheels.
Spurning an offer to endorse Vinyl and Forgiato on social media, however, 50 says he wanted to pay like he did for the Rolls.
The complaint says Phenomenal instead sent the rapper an invoice for nearly $19,000, charging more for this vehicle wrap, plus thousands of dollars extra in charges never agreed upon.
50 says he ultimately paid $10,000, and Phenomenal released the Bentley to him.
When 50 sent a representative to pick up his vehicles’ original rims, the complaint says Phenomenal presented yet another invoice for nearly $32,000.
The injury to 50 is threefold, according to the complaint, which says Vinyl is extorting the rapper, wrongfully converting his property and benefitting from his image without permission.
Showcasing six Instagram posts about the rapper’s vehicles, the complaint says Phenomenal Vinyl and Rim Source Motorsports are misrepresenting 50’s publicity rights under New York and Connecticut law.
The “posts misleadingly convey to the public that Mr. Jackson is endorsing Phenomenal Vinyl's products and services, when in fact, his photographs and mark were used without his consent," according to the complaint.
The complaint also accuses the duo of violating the federal Lanham Act, and it accuses Forgiato of unjust enrichment. Phenomenal Vinyl faces three separate counts of unjust enrichment, deceptive business practices and conversion.
50 wants punitive damages, and injunction and an accounting. He is represented by Michael Kolcun with Robins Kaplan in Manhattan.
Representatives for each of the defendants refused over the phone to comment on the lawsuit.
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