Monday, October 5, 2009

MJ Estate Moonwalks Corporations into Court on Trademark Claims

The Essential Michael Jackson album coverImage via Wikipedia
Slightly more than three months after his death, the Estate of Michael Jackson has filed its first lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against two companies it accuses of exploiting registered trademarks.

Special Administrators of the Estate, John G. Branca and John McClain, along with Jackson trademark owner Triumph International, Inc. sued Heal the World Foundation (HTWF) and its affiliate, United Fleet (Case No. 09-07084), alleging trademark infringement, violation of the federal Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, unfair competition, violation of the right of publicity and seeking the cancellation of the defendants' registered trademarks.

According to the complaint filed by the estate, the defendants co-opted trademarks registered to Jackson, including "King of Pop" and "Thriller," to create the false impression that they were affiliated with the late pop singer and his charity. The plaintiffs, who are seeking a permanent restraining order against HTWF and United Fleet, allege that the defendant corporations, which were formed in 2008, already have registered a half-dozen Jackson-related trademarks and applied for more than 40 additional trademarks.

Jackson's family has been struggling internally over the late singer's assets since his death June 25 at age 50. Borrowing from the discography of the "King of Pop," the special administrators believe the defendants' conduct is "Bad," "Dangerous," and "Off-the-Wall." Anyone expecting a "Thriller" in the courtroom has never sat through a trademark infringement case.

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