Court: Sara Lee Can't Use Jimmy Dean Endorsement

A federal court judge has barred food company Sara Lee Corp. (SLE) from saying its Jimmy Dean (search) sausage products are endorsed by the country music singer they are named for, court papers show.

In a ruling earlier this month, Judge Sam Cummings of U.S. District Court in Lubbock, Texas, ordered Sara Lee to stop using any personal endorsement by 76-year-old Dean on its packaging pending the resolution of a lawsuit he filed last year.

Sara Lee, which dropped Dean as a spokesman in 2003, said it stopped putting the singer's personal guarantee on its packaging about a year ago, citing business reasons.

"It's not on our packaging, but we still maintain we have the right to use it," said Sara Lee spokeswoman Julie Ketay.

Sara Lee bought the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. (search) in 1984 for $15 million, but the Chicago-based apparel, food, and household products conglomerate in 2003 opted not to renew a consulting agreement with Dean in a bid to refocus its advertising on the sausage products themselves, Ketay said.

Dean, best known for his 1961 hit "Big Bad John (search)," sued Sara Lee last year, saying the continued use of his personal endorsement on products violated his right to privacy.