Written by Staff

Monday, 08 December 2008

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musicrapper sued by swisher sweets
tobacco legislation

The artist formerly known as Mista Swissher Sweet needs a new stage name.

Jontae Green, an Austell rapper, said this week that he will drop his old moniker after being sued by Swisher International, which bills itself as the world's largest cigar maker.

Swisher says Swissher shouldn't have used the brand's name and logos on his Web site and in album art for his iTunes single, "Jump Around."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, accuses Green of trademark infringement and says he broke laws that protect businesses from commercial copycats.

Green, 26, said he wasn't trying to irritate Swisher. He said he took the name because it was his brother's cigar of choice.

His brother died of cancer years ago. Green said he doesn't blame the cigar company for that, although he knows smoking can cause cancer. He said he'll stop using the name and will remove its red-and-white logo and signature shield from his Web site and other materials.

"It ain't no big deal," Green said. "The streets already know me as Swissher. I can just put my face on a CD cover and they know who it is."

Lloyd Farr, an Atlanta attorney representing Jacksonville-based Swisher, said Friday that the company is obligated to protect its intellectual property by policing its mark. As far as resolving the lawsuit, that's something the company will have to work out with Green, Farr said.

"Certainly we're happy that he's pulling down the Web site and changing his name," he said.

In the lawsuit, Swisher asks for any profits Green realized because of the alleged trademark infringement, and seeks damages of $100,000 or more. It asks the court to order Green to destroy any products that bear the Swisher name or logo and transfer the domain name to Swisher.

Green runs his own independent record label, Farbetter Records, as well as a recording studio and retail store in Austell. He said he'd like to work with Swisher, which he said could gain from endorsing him. He noted that Swisher is often used by people who fill the cigar wrapper with marijuana to make "blunts."

"I can go on the radio and tell them to support Swisher by going to," he said. "The sales are going to be phenomenal."

Green said he's talked to Swisher's lawyers, and has agreed to hand over proceeds from "Jump Around." But the domain name they'll have to pay for, he said (his asking price is $22,000). And he said Swisher won't have much luck with the damages.

"If they want $100,000, they can't get it from me," he said. "I don't have $100,000."


0 # You still Swissher BabySasha Adams 2009-06-13 13:43
I am your biggest fan! keep yo head up boy!

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