Thursday, 4 February 2016

Judge dismisses law suit against Fox's 'Empire Series' name

Judge rules that "Empire" has artistic relevance and isn't explicitly misleading.

Twentieth Century Fox Television won a significant legal victory on Tuesday when a California federal judge ruled in its favor in a legal war over Empire, its hit drama about a feuding music-industry family led by Lucious Lyon.

Facing an $8 million demand from Empire Distribution — a record label and publishing company that has worked with such hip-hop artists as T.I., Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar — Fox filed suit in March 2015, seeking declaratory relief that its use of "Empire" wasn't a trademark violation. Empire Distribution brought counterclaims and demanded an injunction.

In his summary judgment opinion, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson decides that he doesn't need to address whether consumers are confused by the source of Fox's hip-hop drama and associated soundtracks in the marketplace.

Instead, the decision comes down to First Amendment protections and an important test that's been around since actress Ginger Rogers unsuccessfully sued over Federico Fellini's 1986 film Ginger and Fred.