Rodney Dangerfield may be a comic, but when it comes to protecting his image, he is dead serious.
The lawsuit, just filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also alleges that the ISP used the endorsement of Dangerfield's wife, Joan, in their promotional materials without her consent. In addition, the suit claims Epoch let other clients use a RealAudio plug-in point that was purchased by the comedian exclusively for his site, his lawyer said.
Epoch denies all the charges.
In an interview today, Eric Landau, Dangerfield's lawyer, said his client's reputation was harmed by the allegedly unauthorized ads. "If someone put a poster for a congressman on your front lawn, you would object, especially if you didn't endorse the guy."
Landau cited an advertisement for the Sassy-Sex Web site as an example. Epoch placed advertisements on the site for at least 28 different companies, he purported.
In turn, Epoch general counsel Robert Hawekotte announced plans to issue a countersuit seeking damages that he described as "much larger." He added: "These claims are completely fraudulent and slanderous, and we're not going to stand for it."
Hawekotte denied that any advertisements ever appeared on the Dangerfield site. He conceded that Joan Dangerfield's endorsement was used in promotional materials, but said she had authorized that. He also dismissed the RealAudio claim.
"This is probably an attempt to get some publicity for Dangerfield, but it's not going to be at our expense," Hawekotte added.
The case is not the comedian's first venture into court. In 1993, Dangerfield was awarded a $2 judgement in a libel battle with Star Editorial, according to his Web site.