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The actor and TV host Nick Cannon has lashed out at ViacomCBS after the media giant terminated him over anti-Semitic remarks. In a lengthy Facebook post, Cannon accused the company of “robbing” the Black community, and claimed that he is the rightful owner of Wild ‘N Out, a popular improv show he conceived and hosted.
“I created a billion-dollar brand that expanded across a multitiered empire that is still Viacom’s biggest digital brand,” Cannon wrote. “Based on trust and empty promises, my ownership was swindled away from me…I demand full ownership of my billion dollar ‘Wild ‘N Out’ brand that I created.”
Cannon’s claim is a significant one. If he does indeed own Wild ‘N Out, he could be entitled to receive a large amount of money from ViacomCBS and determine the future of the brand.
The Facebook post does not explain his legal justification for the claim, and one intellectual property expert is skeptical that the post amounts to much more than a rant.
According to Alexandra Roberts, a professor at University of New Hampshire law school, ViacomCBS owns two trademarks for Wild ‘N Out—one for entertainment services and another related to restaurants. Owning such marks creates a legal presumption that ViacomCBS is indeed the owner.
“[E]ven if the show was Cannon’s ‘idea’ or he’s the driving creative force behind it, that doesn’t make him the mark owner,” Roberts explains.
Roberts adds that there could be clauses in Cannon’s contract with ViacomCBS that assign Cannon intellectual property rights to Wild ‘N Out, but this would be unusual for the industry.
“But it strikes me as unlikely that a big company like Viacom would ever agree to assign trademark rights in the name of a show to an entertainer,” she says.
Neither Cannon nor ViacomCBS immediately responded to a request for comment about the dispute.
ViacomCBS cut ties with Cannon over a podcast in which he engaged in a lengthy discussion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This included asking why “we give so much power to the ‘theys,’ and ‘theys’ turn into illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds”—language that alludes to baseless assertions about Jewish plots.
In his Facebook post, Cannon claims to have spoken with “many Rabbis, clergy, Professors and coworkers” about the incident and expressed remorse.
“I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention,” he wrote.
The post did not, however, expressly renounce the conspiracy theories he described in the podcast. In further remarks on Wednesday, Cannon reiterated his apology and described the controversy as “only the beginning of my education” and committed himself to “strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward.”
Cannon’s most recent remarks came amid as Fox announced it would let the entertainer continue to host the popular Masked Singer show.
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