LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Estate of Michael Jackson today announced that United States District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee granted its request for a preliminary injunction enjoining the “Heal the World Foundation” from further exploiting the use of Michael Jackson’s name, image and likeness and also from using any Michael Jackson-related trademarks.
The injunction stems from a lawsuit filed on September 29, 2009 in United States District Court in Los Angeles against two related entities operated by Melissa Johnson in the California desert communities of Indio and Palm Desert that have been using the “Heal the World” name. While Michael had a Heal the World Foundation, it had been inactive for many years prior to his death last June 25. The plaintiffs in the action are Jackson Estate Executors John Branca and John McClain, along with Triumph International Inc., a Michael Jackson company now owned by his Estate.
In her written order, Judge Gee wrote that the websites of Ms. Johnson’s entities “convey to consumers a false affiliation with Michael Jackson and have, in fact, misled consumers into believing that Defendants are associated with Michael Jackson or Jackson’s foundations.” She added that the decision by Ms. Johnson’s entities to use Michael Jackson-related trademarks in its websites and on products it sells “is clearly related to Michael Jackson’s commercial success.”
Judge Gee also found that Ms. Johnson’s entities violated “anti-cybersquatting” laws through its attempts to register the “mjaid.com” and “mjquotes.com” domain names, noting that using “mj” in the two domain names would likely confuse consumers into believing that the websites were associated with Michael Jackson. Judge Gee concluded that the Estate will likely succeed on the merits in trademark infringement, unfair competition and related claims. She also concluded that an injunction is in the public interest, and that the Estate would otherwise lose substantial revenue and goodwill.
“Michael had no ties to this Heal the World Foundation,” said Vincent Chieffo, attorney with Greenberg Traurig LLP, representing the plaintiffs. “We believe the court made the correct decision to protect Michael’s fans from being misled into believing they are contributing to either an official Michael Jackson charity or one of his causes.”