11 Jan 2011
Attorneys for Michael Jackson’s Estate are currently in a secret deposition with Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation President Melissa Johnson, after filing a lawsuit claiming the charity uses the King of Pop’s name and likeness illegally to solicit donations.
The executors of Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, claim Heal the World Foundation had no relationship with Jackson or his family. The foundation was formed in 2008 and trademarked its name — also the title of one of Jackson’s most famous songs. The suits claims the foundation has even sought trademarks for certain terms like “Thriller,” “Neverland” and “King of Pop.”
Melissa Johnson – who shares the same initials as Jackson – has trademarked “MJ.” In August, the foundation filed notice in the singer’s estate case of its intent to use Jackson’s name and to sell merchandise with his likeness.
Jackson’s estate has filed trademark requests for similar terms and the suit claims trademark infringement and unfair competition and seeks a cancellation of the trademark of Jackson’s (and Johnson’s) initials.
We’re told the Estate picked this week specifically, to begin the deposition, in hopes the media’s attention would be diverted to the Murray trial:
This is why they’ve set up this secret deposition Tuesday at their lawyer’s office. The Estate wanted to do it specifically during the Murray trial so they could divert attention from this case, while they try to place a gag order on Johnson.”