The media giant Fox Entertainment is apparently taking a page from the lawsuit surrounding Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” In that lawsuit Thicke sued the Marvin Gaye estate pre-emptively to try to stop any claim of copyright infringement. Thicke’s lawsuit ultimately failed and he is expected to pay heavily to Gaye’s estate.
The record label Empire Distribution Inc. is a California corporation that claims rights to the Empire name. Empire Distribution and Empire Recordings sent Fox a demand letter. The letter asks for $8 million in damages or $5 million and that Fox cast several of its artists in the series. The demand letter also claims that the “Empire” series, which portrays “A label run by a homophobic drug dealer prone to murdering his friends,” tarnished the trademark image of the company. Among the signed artists for Empire Distribution are Kendrick Lamar, N.O.R.E. and Sean Paul.
In response, Fox sued and refuses to pay any money. Lawyers for Fox have stated that the defendant never applied for a federal trademark registration for the name. The lawsuit seeks to protect the intellectual property rights of “Empire” and its offshoot, Soundtrack Music.