Rapper 50 Cent is suing the Taco Bell fast-food chain claiming it used his name without permission in adverts asking him to call himself 99 Cent.
The rapper wants US$4m (€2.5m) in a federal lawsuit over the Mexican-themed chain’s campaign suggesting he change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent or 99 Cent. His real name is Curtis Jackson.
The rapper’s court papers say the advert is part of Taco Bell’s “Why Pay More?” campaign, which promotes items for under a dollar, including Cinnamon Twists for 79 cents, Crunchy Tacos for 89 cents and Bean Burritos for 99 cents.
The papers say the company sent a bogus letter requesting the name change to the media but not to the rapper.
The rapper’s lawyer, Peter Raymond, said his client did not learn about the letter or that he was featured in the campaign until he saw a news report about it.
A Taco Bell spokesman said: “We made a good faith, charitable offer to 50 Cent to change his name to either 79, 89 or 99 Cent for one day by rapping his order at a Taco Bell, and we would have been very pleased to make the 10,000 dollar donation to the charity of his choice.”
This is not the first time 50 Cent has sued over his name or image.
In July 2007, he filed a €634,975 lawsuit accusing an internet advert company of using his image without permission in a game called “Shoot the Rapper,” in which the player pretends to shoot him.
The game shows 50 Cent walking in across the top of a web page while the viewer is encouraged to shoot him by aiming and clicking with the mouse, the rapper’s court papers said.
A successful shot results in a misty cloud of red, and then the viewer is directed to another web page, where the firm’s clients sell goods and services.
The rapper is a victim of gun violence: He was shot outside his grandmother’s New York home in 2000 and rapped in one of his biggest hits, “In da Club,” about being shot.
He has been nominated for 13 Grammys.