Montel Williams has had enough. After having to put up with several companies using his appearance to sell their products to sick people misleadingly, Williams has filed a lawsuit against them. The accused companies are operating in Arizona, and Williams claims that they used his image with his permission.
A whole group of companies, from Advanceable Technology to Secrets of ISIS, have been using a picture of Montel’s face to sell fake cannabidiol (CBD) oil products. The Business Insider reports that some of the products being sold may not have had any CBD in them whatsoever.
The companies link back to a familiar face in the area, Timothy K. Isaac. In 2009, Isaac pled guilty to a slew of charges, one of them for vending misbranded drugs. Isaac is the defendant in the lawsuit mounted by Williams.
Various types of CBD products can be purchased all over America, with many companies choosing to stock it despite the questionable legality of some cannabis products. The CBD being sold in Arizona is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t make you high when you use it, as cannabis usually does. These products don’t contain any THC, the substance that federal agencies and drug testers are looking for. This is why hemp-based CBD companies explicitly state that their products don’t have THC, hence why it is legal everywhere.
Williams has supported medical cannabis for nearly two decades, having first started to use the herb as a remedy for his multiple sclerosis symptoms back in 1999. Williams founded a medical cannabis known as Lenitiv Labs recently, which is targeting the California cannabis market, but could extend to other pro-pot states in the near future.
Montel first became concerned when he saw his face on advertisements for products that he knew he had never endorsed. What’s more, some of the products being sold under Williams’ image had names such as Hemptif CBD and Revive CBD Oil.
The websites were misleadingly styled to have the appearance of a Forbes contributor site, as explained by Janet Burns, a freelance contributor at Forbes. She says that some of the story she wrote for ABC about the set-up of Lenitiv was used in a site, alongside fake quotes from Montel and other famous faces to act as testimonials for these fake products.
The Williams complaint points out that a minimum of 12 websites hosted advertisements that route back to websites linked to Isaac. Customers were even directing their ire to Williams, complaining about the products they had purchased with his face on, despite the fact that he had no involvement.
The advertisements typically invited customers to sign up for a “free trial” – however, in reality, that “trial” would tie the customer into an automatic credit card billing payment system that offered no option to cancel, according to the complaint.
Isaac fights back
Isaac is not going on fighting and has strongly rowed back at the claims that he is responsible for the advertisements, telling the Phoenix New Times that he is “tired of being blamed for stupid things.”
In 2009, Isaac pled guilty to several federal charges, all related to a company of his that imported a Chinese Viagra-type drug, a story that the Phoenix New Times reported on at the time.
Montel has reason to believe the courts will side with him, even more so after enlisting the services of Davis & Gilbert LLP, who have experience in this field after helping TV personality Dr Oz out of a similar case, says Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams and his company Lenitiv.
The Williams team was more than happy to mount a suit because it remains true to the principles of their brand, according to Franks. Montel has instructed an aggressive pursuance of the litigation, and has told his attorneys to name and shame more defendants involved with the product scam.
Franks adds that it is crucial to bear in mind that there are victims with these sort of scams, and that they are, in their nature, designed to defraud the most vulnerable people in society, who have illnesses and disabilities and are looking for a cure-all for their issues. The complaint explained that many of the people who had complained about the ads were veterans and the elderly, who had been put into overdraft because of these scams.
Williams’s spokesman called it a “deliberate theft” of Montel’s name and brand, which was used to con sick people.
Advanceable Technology, one company owned by Isaac, was graded F when reviewed by the Better Business Bureau.