The network filled the trademark lawsuit on Monday.
It looks like Fox is doing everything in its power to make sure their ‘Empire’ is the only one left standing. The network filed a a trademark lawsuit on Monday seeking a declaration that it has every right to use the name ‘Empire’ as the title for its hit series, after a Californian music company demanded it pay $5 million for usage of the name.
'Empire' has been a ratings winner for Fox
According to The Hollywood Reporter Fox is suing Empire Distribution, Inc, after the company claimed they owned the rights to the names "Empire," "Empire Distribution" and "Empire Recordings”. The company has also claimed ‘trademark dilution by tarnishment’ saying the series features "a label run by a homophobic drug dealer prone to murdering his friends.”
The website of Empire Distribution lists many famous names on its roster, including Kendrick Lamar and Sean Paul, before the artists moved on to bigger labels. But Fox has argued that the defendant never applied for a federal trademark registration on ‘Empire’ before their series became a ratings hit.
THR writes that Empire Distribution sent two letters to Fox containing a set of demands, including $8 million, ‘to resolve potential trademark infringement and dilution claims’. The first letter is said to have come on February 16h, while the next followed on March 6th.
"This letter, again authored by outside counsel, reiterated defendant’s trademark claims, asserted a new claim for unfair competition, and gave Fox three 'options' to settle the claims made against it," states the complaint. "(1) Fox could pay $5 million and include artists that defendant represents as 'regular guest stars' on the fictional television series Empire; (2) Fox could pay defendant $8 million; or (3) Fox could stop using the word ‘Empire.’”
But Fox isn't going to pay up and has instead opted to take Empire Distribution to court. “Unfortunately, success today can often make creators a target for a myriad of baseless legal claims,” the network’s attorney told THR.
“They hope you will just pay a little something from that success to make them go away. As underscored by today’s complaint, Fox has no intention of allowing anyone to leverage 'Empire’'s success for their own unwarranted financial gain.”
Created by Lee Daniels, ‘Empire’ has proven to be a huge hit for Fox, giving the network its highest ratings for a freshman series’ season finale since 'Grey’s Anatomy' in May 2005. The series’ soundtrack also debut at the top of the Billboard charts last month, beating Madonna’s latest album to the number one spot.
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