LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Oscar-winning director and actor Sylvester Stallone, best known for the title roles in action films like “Rocky” and “Rambo”, may be facing his toughest foe yet: pudding inventor William Brescia.
The actor has been named along with a former business associate in a trade secrets lawsuit filed by the inventor of a pudding for body builders, says he was intrigued with the idea of being the face behind the product.
“Well, you know, if you think of like a fellow who’s Rambo and Rocky and he’s selling pudding, it just is … you know, I thought this is unique, this could actually work because of the contrast,” according to Stallone’s videotaped deposition taken in connection with the case in May.
Stallone says his involvement with the pudding was not something he anticipated at the time.
“It was somewhat of a surprise, actually,” Stallone says. “I didn’t want — I never planned to go into the pudding business if you know what I mean. I just thought it was kind of novel.”
Asked by plaintiff William Brescia’s lawyer, John Marder, what he thought of his client’s high protein, low carbohydrate produce, Stallone replied, “I thought it was brilliant.”
Brescia alleges the actor and businessman John Arnold took his recipe for the high-energy, low-carbohydrate meal and marketed it as their own product. But Stallone denied the allegation.
“Now, I never stole … all I know is I’m getting sued for something that I have no recollection, no involvement in,” Stallone says. “I just sold a product. I never was involved in ripping off anyone’s pudding and it’s costing me a lot of money and harassment for something I did not do, or would ever do and have never done.”
And in a sworn declaration, Arnold says Stallone did not have his finger in the important activities of Instone, the nutrition supplements company with which they were both affiliated at the time.
“Mr. Stallone had no involvement in the day-to-day operations of Instone,” Arnold states. “I had no communications with Mr. Stallone concerning Mr. Brescia.”
Brescia filed his suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in November 2004, but did not add Stallone and Arnold until June 2007. A judge later dismissed Stallone and Arnold as defendants, but Brescia appealed, and last year a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the decision and reinstated both.
In an earlier trial, marketing executive Keith Angelin was found jointly liable in September 2008 with Instone and food scientist Christopher Scinto. Angelin later agreed to pay Brescia $10,000 to end his liability in the first verdict, according to Marder, but the settlement later fell apart.
Brescia says he began developing his pudding in 1999 and alleges Angelin and Scinto delivered it to Stallone, who “promised to use his significant financial resources to market and produce the product and to place his company’s distinctive name … on the label.”
Ads for the pudding referred to it as “Sylvester Stallone Low Carb Pudding,” according to Brescia’s court papers.
Stallone, 64, was once chairman of Instone’s board of directors and Arnold used to be its chief executive officer, but neither are still affiliated with the firm. Scinto was hired by Brescia to further develop and improve the pudding.
Stallone and Arnold maintain there is nothing special about the pudding and that Brescia’s lawyers cannot show how it differs from the general knowledge of those in the same field.
Instone and Scinto have appealed the verdict in the earlier trial. Scinto also filed for bankruptcy.
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