Howard Mann, the Canadian business man who partnered with Michael’s mother on a tribute book and websites that use his image and music, violated copyrights held by Michael’s estate, a judge ruled on Friday.
A federal judge in Los Angeles granted an injunction blocking Mann from using the websites michaeljacksonsecretvault.com, MJgives.com and other similar domain names, saying he infringed on Michael’s intellectual property.
“There is undisputed evidence that he intended in bad faith to profit from use of Jackson’s name, by registering multiple domain names containing his name or the initials ‘MJ’ to sell Jackson-related products,” U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson wrote in his ruling.
The case against Mann was filed by the executors of Michael estate in January 2011.
Judge Pregerson sided with the executors, who claimed that the websites, run by Mann, used copyright protected clips of Michael’s song ‘Destiny,’ a logo featuring the King of Pop and art from the posthumous concert film ‘This Is It.’
Mann has worked with Mrs Katherine Jackson on several projects since 2009, which include a coffee table book entitled ‘Never Can Say Goodbye,’ a DVD, and a calendar. All were sold via Mann’s secretvault website.
Mann claimed he obtained the rights to the material at a bankruptcy sale involving members of Jackson’s family several years ago.
Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Estate of Michael Jackson, said a court date set for September 4, 2012 will involve “how much in damages the Michael Jackson Estate is entitled to collect from Mann and his various entities.”
Estate executors, John Branca and John McClain, said in a statement they were “extremely pleased” with the court’s ruling which will now prevent Mann from “continuing to unlawfully profit from Michael Jackson and his intellectual property.”