Emmy-winning TV host Montel Williams filed a lawsuit in Arizona on Friday over the alleged misuse of his name and reputation by three cannabis-related companies in Scottsdale.
Williams, a longtime proponent of cannabis reform, alleges that the companies infringed on his name, image, and related trademarks “in online scams that are deceiving consumers.” The suit names as defendants Advanceable Technology LLC, Beauty Strong LLC (formerly Hathor Secrets and Secrets of Isis), Snowflake Marketing LLC, and Timothy Isaac, to whom the companies are registered.
According to the lawsuit, Isaac’s companies would put together materials designed to look like news in an effort to sell “purported CBD oils” through websites featuring Williams’ likeness. An example was included in court documents:
The websites would also feature apparent endorsements from figures such as Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Gates, Dr. Dre, and numerous others, the suit says.
Much of the alleged activity appears to stem from an April 20 Forbes article in which writer Janet Burns covered Williams’ relationship with medical cannabis, which he spent 17 years researching and advocating for. Isaac would allegedly mimic the Forbes article in order to promote subscriptions products said to contain high-quality CBD.
“Many of Defendants’ offers are in fact credit card scams or other fraudulent schemes by which Defendants (a) charge customers despite advertising that the Infringing Products are available for a “free trial” and often refuse to adequately disclose any mechanism for customers to cancel the ongoing charges; (b) fail to fulfill orders despite charging consumers; or (c) charge consumers for monthly subscriptions of Infringing Products without the consumers having signed up for any such subscription,” the complaint alleges.
Williams’ lawsuit claims that a large group of consumers have purchased the products under false pretenses and have gone on to express frustration with what they inferred was Williams’ company. Per the filing, Williams seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages, and attorney fees.
In a follow-up report by Forbes writer Burns, titled “Scammers Used My Article And Montel’s Name To Hock ‘CBD’; Now It’s Lawsuit Time,” she notes that a Williams spokesman, Jonathan Franks, says the operation generated income from the significant web traffic it drew.
Isaac appears to have a history of questionable business dealings, Forbes reports. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to selling Chinese Viagra-style medicine to online customers without prescriptions. He also reportedly “had applied for Social Security disability benefits in 2006, received $35,000 in benefits, and taken out a mortgage on a $2.9 million house the same year.”