Empire Distribution responds to the lawsuit filed by Twentieth Century Fox.
There appears to be a messy legal battle being fought right now between two Empires. On March 23, Twentieth Century Fox Television, home of the new series "Empire", filed a federal lawsuit against Empire Distribution to protect its rights to use the Empire name and property, but the renown record label and distribution company have quickly responded.
In a new press release, Empire Distribution CEO Ghazi Shami explains, “FOX’s Empire television program has created significant confusion with EMPIRE’s products and services. Customers, artists and business partners have all expressed confusion to my employees, artists, and me as to whether the Empire program has any affiliation or business relationship with EMPIRE. It does not.”
Shami continued, “Fox, through the Empire program, advertises, distributes, and streams music and sells downloads under the ‘Empire’ mark. This music shares the same search terms as EMPIRE’s music, the musical genres are identical, and the songs and albums are positioned in close proximity in online outlets such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, and Spotify. It isn’t just a fictional show; they are functioning as a record label in the real world,” said Shami. “This only makes the public confusion worse.”
“We are confident that this is a textbook trademark infringement case,” said Michael Hobbs, a partner with Troutman Sanders LLP, the law firm representing EMPIRE. “EMPIRE was started over five years before the first broadcast of the show, the marks are identical, and they sell the same products to the same customers. The significant number of incidents of actual public confusion is disturbing.”
Michael Hobbs also alleges that they reached out to FOX several times to solve the matter but were rebuffed. “The only alternative with which we are left is to litigate, which we will do vigorously to protect our client’s valuable rights,” Hobbs said.
According to TMZ, Empire Distribution is willing to live with the taint, but only if Fox pays $8 million ... $5 million if the show uses Empire Distribution's artists as regulars.
We’ll continue to update you with this developing story.