Ruben Sues Over the Shirt on His Back

08/04/2003 2:53PM

"American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is suing over his look.

The "velvet teddy bear" (as the 25-year-old with the big voice and shape to match has been called) filed a lawsuit in an Alabama court last week against the hip-hop clothing maker 205 Flava Inc., reports the Associated Press.

Studdard, an Alabama native, claims the company wrongly profited from his image after he wore its jerseys on the FOX show last season.

The suit, filed by Birmingham, Ala., attorney Byron Perkins and New York attorneys Tom J. Ferber and David S. Levine, seeks an injunction to stop the unauthorized use of Studdard's image.

The winner wore the oversized jerseys adorned with the number 205 (the telephone area code for his hometown of Birmingham) when he began on the show. He later refined his look, as he got further into the competition.

Legal papers obtained by AP state that 205 Flava Inc .has unfairly and unlawfully exploited and capitalized on Studdard's popularity and estimates that the company has made at least $2 million in sales by exploiting Studdard's image. The singer is asking to share in the profits.

Attorney LaVeeda Battle, who has represented Flava founders Frederick and Willie Jenkins of Birmingham, told a local paper that it is untrue that the brothers have exploited Studdard.

"They have bent over backwards to help him, and they are really disappointed in his conduct at this point," she told the Birmingham News.

Studdard's Alabama lawyer said he tried to work out a deal with Flava, but the company has refused to produce financial books and records he requested.

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