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Dr. Pepper V. Axl Rose

Thursday, 27 Nov 2008 | 4:02 PM ET

CNBC (um, me) has an update on the soda versus singer saga.

Axl Rose may be singing about "Chinese Democracy", but Dr. Pepper (part of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group ) is learning that in an American democracy, be careful what you promise, because you could end up in court.Dr. Pepper's offer to give away free soda if Axl Rose released "Chinese Democracy" this year has blown up like a shaken can of soda.

The offer--first reported last March by yours truly--seemed like a great way to get some buzz without much chance of ever having to pay up, as it seemed unlikely Rose would deliver on an album 17 years in the making.

Rose, caught offguard, released a statement at the time saying he was "pleased and happy" to have the good Dr's support.Well, Rose delivered the album, and, as I reported earlier this week, Dr. Pepper's website was overwhelmed by people wanting coupons for free soda.

Now comes the legal action.

Published reports say Rose's attorney is accusing Dr.Pepper of defrauding customers and exploiting Guns N' Roses. They're demanding the company make things right by taking out full-page ads apologizing and extend the free soda offer.

Oh yeah, Axl also wants compensation, saying Dr. Pepper is profiting from the band's name--though I don't think the company is getting the sort of press it hoped for.

And giving away millions of cans of soda may be hard to prove "profitable." I asked the company for a response, and here's what a Dr. Pepper spokesman sent me:

"For us, this was a fun giveaway that has always been about the fans, and we’ve taken great steps to fulfill it, including:

*Extending the window for the giveaway from 24 to 42 hours

*Adding a toll-free line to handle consumer requests for the coupons

*Setting up an interactive voice recorder to accept coupon requests

This was one of the largest responses we have ever received for a giveaway, and we’re happy we were able to satisfy the thirst of so many Dr Pepper fans."

Meantime, I've asked the company if it took out insurance in case it had to make good on the free offer. That's a lot of soda to deliver for no money, and now there may be lawyers to pay.

Update: Dr. Pepper tells me they do have insurance to cover the giveaway.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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