Files suit against General Motors, ad agency.

Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is suing car manufacturing giant General Motors (GM) and ad agency McCann Erickson in Frankfurt, Germany, for using a perfect imitation of the singer's voice in a series of commercials.

The lawsuit names Ruesselsheim-based Adam Opel AG, a GM brand, and McCann Erickson for allegedly violating his long-established policy of never doing commercials. He claims the defendants' agent had appointed a perfect sound-alike to impersonate him.

Although the commercials were produced in Germany, they have already been aired in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway between late last year and early spring 2005.

Waits and his representatives are seeking an injunction as well as damages on account of breach of rights. The artist is using a precedent in German law that established that Marlene Dietrich's personality rights had been misused in a similar case.

Informed sources claim a seven-digit sum is being sought in the case at the Frankfurt/Main regional court. However, Waits’ law firm, Spiess & Schumacher in Berlin has not confirmed.

In March 2004, Waits won a legal dispute against Tandem Campmany Guasch, a Spanish production company that had misappropriated his singing style for a sound-alike TV spot.

And in 1990, he won $2.5 million in a case against Frito-
Lay Inc and its ad agency for using his vocals styles in an ad marketing the Salsa Rio Doritos chips.