In a victory for Michael Jackson’s estate, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson said businessman Howard Mann had no right to use art from the movie “This Is It,” the Jackson song “Destiny,” and material from an anniversary release DVD of “Thriller” on web properties including michaeljacksonsecretvault.com.
The website, now inactive, was created to sell a hardcover tribute book that Mann published with Katherine Jackson two years ago.
The judge granted a permanent injunction against unauthorized use of the material saying that because of Mann’s longstanding interest in Jackson and ties to his parents, “future violations are likely.”
An upcoming trial is expected to decide damages, but Judge Pregerson wrote that “defendants are unlikely to be able to pay damages, given their substantial outstanding debts.”
The estate filed the lawsuit against Mann more than a year ago claiming his venture with Katherine Jackson was illegal, confusing to consumers and potentially damaging to legitimate business ventures trying to earn money for Michael’s mom and three kids.
“The Court’s ruling makes clear that Howard Mann had no right to use Michael Jackson’s intellectual property for his own benefit,” estate lawyer Zia Modabber said in a statement Friday.
“The Executors of the Michael Jackson Estate are extremely pleased with the Court’s ruling which prevents Mann from continuing to unlawfully profit from Michael Jackson and his intellectual property,” a statement from an estate spokesman read.
Mann vowed to fight on and said he doesn’t believe the judge’s ruling applies to the hardcopy tribute book that he published with Katherine’s blessing.
“It’s obviously very disappointing, but we intend to go back with some additional information. We still feel we have marketing rights related to the book,” Mann told the Daily News.
Memorabilia dealer’s challenge of Michael Jackson’s will shot down in court
Judge rules Howard Mann can’t use Michael Jackson song, movie images on his site
August 10, 2012
New York Daily News
Michael Jackson’s will attacked again; estate hit with new paperwork over copyrighted material in tribute book
Memorabilia dealer Howard Mann says he is ‘in possession of evidence that casts substantial doubt on the validity of the will,’ and plans to present it when he goes to court next month over the intellectual property in a tribute book he published with Katherine Jackson.
August 8, 2012
New York Daily News
Michael Jackson’s will is under assault again, this time in federal court.
Howard Mann, a memorabilia dealer who published a tribute book with matriarch Katherine Jackson two years ago, filed legal docs Monday claiming he was “in possession of evidence that casts substantial doubt on the validity of the will.”
He told the Daily News Wednesday that he hopes to present the evidence in court when a copyright battle centered on the book goes to trial next month.
He’s fighting with the estate’s executors over intellectual property contained in the book and a website created to sell it.
“I am not backing down from my court fight with these guys. I’m not interested in settling with them. I came out and said these guys were a fraud two years ago,” Mann told The News. “I have many people who will come and give testimony that the entire administration is a fraud and a collusive operation designed to take assets away from Katherine and Michael’s kids.”
Asked about his alleged “evidence,” Mann echoed a recent claim by Janet Jackson and her siblings Randy and Rebbie that the 2002 will is a “fake” because it was signed with a Los Angeles dateline while Michael was in New York at an event with the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The estate executors called Janet’s accusation “false and defamatory,” rooted in “stale Internet conspiracy theories” that had been “thoroughly debunked.”
Mann said he also might call experts to the stand to question so-called “variances” in handwriting on the will and errors in the spellings of Michael’s kids’ names.
“I have no ability to contest the will. It’s not up to me to prove its validity. All I have to do is prove they don’t own certain copyrights,” he said.
Janet’s lawyer issued a statement Friday saying the “Control” singer, Randy and Rebbie would “press forward in their search for the truth.”
“It is important to stress that Janet, Randy and Rebbie have questioned the validity of the will with no financial motive whatsoever – they stand to gain nothing financially by a finding that the will is invalid,” the lawyer said, noting that Michael’s children are his beneficiaries either way.
“What will be gained by a finding of invalidity is that the executors will be replaced and the estate and the guardianship will be managed in a manner that is in the best interests of the children, which is what Michael wanted,” the lawyer said.