10:59am PT by Eriq Gardner
Michael Jackson Estate Can Proceed with Lawsuit Against Memorabilia Website
A federal judge is allowing a lawsuit brought by the Michael Jackson estate to continue against the operator of a website that sells various MJ memorabilia.
The lawsuit was filed last year against Howard Mann, who operates MichaelJacksonSecretVault.com, which sells rare artwork, photographs, sound recordings and other merchandise. Notably, Mann is a former business partner of Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, and the lawsuit represented an aggressive attempt to police the late singer's intellectual property and likeness after his passing.
In an order denying a motion to dismiss, Judge Dean Pregerson is allowing the lawsuit over whether Mann is trying to cash in on Jackson's legacy to continue.
Mann attempted to dismiss the case based on a 2004 lawsuit that was dismissed at a preliminary stage, but the judge rules that the record in that case was "undeveloped" and the identity of the claims are subject to factual dispute.
In another legal development involving the Michael Jackson estate, it has reached a settlement with a nonprofit that claimed to be continuing the singer's Heal the World charitable work. The estate claimed this is infringing its trademarks and the pop singer's likeness rights. Terms of the settlement are confidential.