Michael Jackson’s Production Company to pay $9.4M in Royalty Damages to Quincy Jones

Jones  v. MJJ Productions Inc. et al., No. BC525803 (Superior Court of the State of Cal. For the Cty. Of L.A.)

Michael Jackson’s production company was ordered to pay producer Quincy Jones more than $9.4 million in royalty damages for his work on “Thriller,” “Bad,” and “Off the Wall.” The jury determined that Jones was shorted after Jackson’s estate had breached contracts but declined to award Jones the full $30 million sought

Court Has Jurisdiction Over King Of Pop's Executors In Photo Shoot Case, But Plaintiff's Counsel Disqualified As A Witness

Noval Williams Films v. Branc, 14-cv-4711 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 3, 2015) [Doc. 43].

In a case where Plaintiff film matker sought a declaratory judgment against Michael Jackson's estate that it did not infringe the copyrights in certain audivisual and photographic materials by using them in a documentary film, the Court denied Michael Jackson's executor's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, or alternatively to transfer to California federal court.  However, the executor's motion disqualify plaintiff's counsel was granted because he is a material witness.

Jackson 5 Tribute Band Trademark Cancelled

Wonderbread 5 v. Gilles, TTAB No. 92052150 (TTAB 6/30/2015).

This case involves a dispute about who owns the band’s name in the wake of the departure of one of the band’s five members.  The band, a Jackson 5 tribute band, filed a petition to cancel a trademark registration obtained by a former member who filed the application for the registration only 3 days after he was fired from the band.  The court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the mark WONDERBREAD 5 was not “personal” to the applicant/departing-band-member (Gilles), or for that matter, any of the band members as individual musicians.  Rather, the mark signified the collective “style and quality” of the group, and the partnership, not the departing band member, controlled those qualities. That is to say, the mark WONDERBREAD 5 identified a Jackson 5 tribute band, not a “particular performer combination.”  Thus, because the consuming public did not associate the mark with a particular member (but rather, a style of tribute band), the applicant did not "own" the mark when he applied for it.  The application was therefore void ab initio, and the registration was cancelled.
McClain (Executors of Estate of Michael J. Jackson) v. Mann, No. 2:11-cv-00584 (C.D. Cal. filed Aug. 10, 2012) [Doc. 132].


Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are commercially exploiting without authorization intellectual property created by the late Michael Jackson (“Jackson”) and now owned by Plaintiffs.  Defendants argue, to the contrary, that they obtained the rights to use this intellectual property at a bankruptcy sale involving members of Jackson’s family. Defendants also argue that some of Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by res judicata, and that Plaintiffs have not met their summary judgment burden on other claims.


The court finds that none of these rights were transferred through the bankruptcy sale.  "[N]one of the facts surrounding the sale of Debtors’ personal property from a storage facility indicate a transfer of any intellectual property rights".


The court grants summary judgment to Plaintiffs as to each of Defendants’ affirmative defenses. The court also grants summary judgment to Plaintiffs on their claims for: 1) copyright infringement as to the “This Is It” key art, “Destiny” song, and “Thriller” material; 2) false designation of origin for Defendants’ use of Jackson’s likeness performing the “Smooth Criminal Lean”; 3) misappropriation of likeness for Defendants’ exploitation of this and other images of Jackson; 4) unfair competition based on this alleged unauthorized use; 5) cybersquatting and cyber piracy for Defendants’ exploitation of Jackson’s name in their domain names;
6) an accounting to reveal Defendants’ profits from the unauthorized use; 7) a permanent injunction against the unauthorized use; and 8) declaratory relief as to ownership of the intellectual property at issue.


'Beat It' to Promotor's Claims Against Jackson Estate

Allgood Entertainment, Inc. v. Dileo Entertainment Entertainment & Touring, Inc., et al., No. 09 Civ. 5377 (S.D.N.Y. opinion & order June 29, 2010).

"This case is about whether or not Michael Jackson, through his alleged manager Frank Dileo, agreed to perform a concert with the plaintiffs, AllGood Entertainment, Inc. and AllGood Concerts, LLC, and then later reneged on this agreement in order to perform a different concert with the defendants Anshutz Entertainment Group, AEG Live, LLC, and AEG Live NY, LLC. Plaintiffs allege breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and fraud by Frank Dileo and his management company, Dileo Entertainment and Touring, Inc., and allege tortious interference of contract on the part of Anshutz Entertainment Group and the other AEG entities; Plaintiffs also seek a permanent injunction. Both sets of defendants have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the reasons below, the tortious interference, fraud, and permanent injunction claims are DISMISSED."