Xiu Xiu sues R.J. Reynolds, Rolling Stone over cigarette ad

An Oakland band and a group from Toronto have filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court alleging their names were used in a cigarette ad in a Rolling Stone magazine insert without their authorization.

The lawsuit filed by Xiu Xiu of Oakland and F—-d Up of Toronto claims that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and makes the Camel cigarettes featured in the ads, and Wenner Media, which publishes Rolling Stone, used the bands names for commercial advantage and unfair business practices.

San Francisco attorney Christopher Hunt, who filed the suit on behalf of the two groups, is seeking class action status, which would allow members from the more than 150 bands featured in the ad to join the suit.

The suit says that R.J. Reynolds and Rolling Stone used the names of the groups “without their authorization, consent or even prior knowledge in thefour-page foldout centerpiece of a multi-page advertising section

bannered “Indie Rock Universe” and hawking Camel cigarettes, which occupied a prominent place in the Nov. 15, 2007, fortieth anniversary issue of Rolling Stone.”

The suit alleges, “This was illegal under settled, unambiguous California statutory and common law.”

Hunt said the lawsuit aims to hold the cigarette maker and the magazine to account “to the artists whose names they wrongfully traded on for their own commercial advantage” and also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The suit says, “Xiu Xiu has never authorized the use of its name to be used in connection with the sale of any service or product other than its own musical works and associated merchandise.”

The suit alleges that R.J. Reynolds “wields an impressive armamentarium of resources” aimed at “maximizing sales of RJR's products, which defendants know are addictive and regularly sicken, debilitate and kill

their users in the millions.”

The suit says venue is proper in Alameda County “because “the offending issue of Rolling Stone was at all material times marketed, distributed and sold in Alameda County.”

The suit says members of the two groups have suffered “embarrassment, shock and anger” because the ad makes it seem like they are endorsing a commercial product – cigarettes – that many of them have taken a

stand against.

The ads make the band members appear to be hypocrites and have caused a loss of goodwill and reputation, the suit alleges.

Bay City News

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