12:29pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Michael Jackson Hologram Dispute Is Settled
Two companies that fought viciously over the rights to hologram and digital projection technology have come to an agreement with each other, although it won't quite end all the legal madness over the technology capable of reviving dead stars and allowing living ones to be in multiple places at any given moment.
Hologram USA, run by entrepreneur Alki David, filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Nevada against John Textor's Pulse Evolution Corp. at the time of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, which featured Pulse's work on a Michael Jackson hologram. (The Hollywood Reporter's parent company originally was a co-defendant, but was voluntarily dropped from the case.)
There was more to this lawsuit than met the eye. Hologram USA claimed rights over a technology — a derivation of a 19th century illusion called "Pepper's Ghost" — that had derived from a German inventor named Uwe Maass who worked with a British business person, Ian O'Connell, and another individual, before the company was thrown into bankruptcy under contentious circumstances. The technology then was auctioned to an Italian before winding up in the hands of David, a Greek billionaire, who began fighting with Textor, whose company was O'Connell's American licensee for spectacles like the famous Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella.
If not, our story in May 2015 explained in more detail this crazy international fight, including a side lawsuit brought in Florida by Textor against David for alleged extortion and cyberstalking for doing things like posting a picture of Adolf Hitler on Instagram and tagging him. (That latter case was recently featured in a Florida appeals court decision over the constitutionality of a cyber-gag order.)
Now, however, in a settlement that, as we understand it, resolves both the Michael Jackson hologram dispute as well as the Florida cyberstalking case, the parties have agreed to rest their bitter dispute so as to move forward in their plans to conquer the universe with holograms and digital projections of celebrities everywhere. For example, Pulse just struck a deal with Simon Fuller to come on board as a partner in hopes of creating the next digital human pop star.
In a statement Pulse provides, "Hologram USA, Inc., MDH Hologram, Ltd., and Pulse Evolution Corporation report that they have reached an amicable resolution of the litigation related to the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.”
A Hologram USA spokesperson adds, "Though the terms of the agreement are confidential, we were very happy to receive Pulse's settlement."
Despite the lovefest — and Hologram USA's parting kiss — there's still controversy in court. On Monday, after a judge ordered a severing of claims, O'Connell filed his own lawsuit in Nevada asserting patent infringement, breach of contract, tortious interference, fraudulent misrepresentation and more against Hologram USA and O'Connell's former partner Maass concerning rights to the technology. If the action survives any jurisdictional and statute of limitation challenges, the court will probably have to delve once again into the development of the technology at hand as well as the business dealings and international arbitration proceedings that preceded the notice of settlement filed in court on Wednesday.