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Jackson estate wins victory in copyright case, but will challenge continues

Last Friday, the estate of Michael Jackson won a victory when a federal judge ruled that a memorabilia dealer working with Katherine Jackson violated copyrights owned by the estate and cannot use intellectual property of the estate. At issue is material from the movie “This is it,” Jackson’s song “Destiny,” and material from man anniversary release DVD of “Thriller.”

That material had been used on a website created to sell a tribute book published with Katherine Jackson in 2010. That website is now inactive.

The judge in the case issued a permanent injunction against unauthorized use of the material on the grounds that the businessman’s long-time interest in Jackson and connection to his parents makes future copyright violations likely.

The Jackson estate filed a suit against the businessman over a year ago alleging that his venture with Katherine Jackson was illegal. The estate also claimed that the venture was confusing to consumers and potentially damaging to “legitimate business ventures” seeking to benefit Michael Jackson’s mother and three children.

Mann apparently intends to challenge the ruling, and his attorneys have said they hope to introduce evidence during an upcoming trial that the singer’s will was a fraud.

Major estate challenges like those involving the Jackson estate are not terribly common, but they do happen. Even smaller estates are not exempt from will challenges and their complications.

While eliminating the possibility of all legal challenges in the probate process may be impossible, it is very possible to engage in the type of planning that greatly reduces the chances of conflict. Some families experience a greater than normal amount of conflict, and it is especially important for these families to do what they can to ensure the probate process goes smoothly.

Source: New York Daily News, “Memorabilia dealer’s challenge of Michael Jackson’s will shot down in court,” Nancy Dillon, August 10, 2012

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