Two months ago, Ruben Studdard said he would stop wearing the ''205'' jerseys that had been his trademark during his rise to victory on ''American Idol.'' Not that he was turning his back on Birmingham, his hometown and site of the 205 area code, but rather, he didn't want to appear to be endorsing the shirts, made by 205 Flava, Inc., without getting paid. Now, it appears that no such deal ever came to pass, or ever will. On Wednesday, the Velvet Teddy Bear's lawyers filed suit against 205 Flava, arguing that the company has profited off his image without compensating him, the Birmingham News reports.
Studdard's camp says that the company's ''Idol'' exposure had been worth some $2 million in sales, but that the clothier had declined to share its financial records. The suit argues that 205 Flava continues to use Studdard's image without authorization on its website, and that he should be entitled to a share of its profits. ''We feel very strongly that 205 Flava benefited from their relationship,'' Studdard attorney Byron Perkins told the Associated Press. "I can't advise my client what's fair and equitable to him unless I have some idea as to how much their income changed prior to Ruben Studdard and 'American Idol' and after.''
Flava's owners have said they supplied Ruben with the shirts at his request during the show's run this spring and have denied that they exploited him. ''They have bent over backwards to help him, and they are really disappointed in his conduct at this point,'' Flava lawyer LaVeeda Battle told the News.