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.