Michael Jackson hologram legal row
Published 17/05/2014 | 07:27
The Billboard Music Awards can use a hologram of dead pop icon Michael Jackson at this weekend's show, rejecting efforts from tech companies seeking to block the digital performance.
Judge Kent Dawson said there was not enough evidence to show the planned 3-D image would violate patents held by Hologram USA and Musion Das Hologram.
The companies own rights to technology known for digitally resurrecting deceased rapper Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella music festival.
"The court's decision is not surprising," said lawyer Howard Weitzman, who represented Michael's estate.
"The request to stop this extraordinary Michael Jackson event was ludicrous."
Plans to use the hologram during the show tomorrow emerged with the lawsuit, but were not confirmed until the hearing yesterday afternoon.
Show producers had been promoting only a "history-making performance" at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena that would promote the singer's latest posthumous album, Xscape.
Hologram USA and Musion said in their emergency lawsuit on Thursday that one of their products was being used without authorisation by a competitor to create a segment that depicts Michael performing a new song, Slave To The Rhythm.
Lawyer Michael Feder, representing the show and Jackson estate, filed a response yesterday, saying the holographic performance had been planned for months and was discussed with Alki David, who owns the rights to the technology that creates and projects lifelike images to appear alongside live performers through Hologram USA and Musion.
The plaintiff's lawyer Ryan Baker said his clients were disappointed with the ruling, but the lawsuit will continue.
"It's only the very beginning of a case that will continue to be prosecuted by my clients, and ultimately they are confident that they will prevail and will recover all available damages for the defendants' infringing conduct," he said.
Hologram USA obtained the rights to the patents after the bankruptcy of Florida effects house Digital Domain, which created the Shakur image to wide acclaim two years ago.
In March, Hologram USA sued Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International over its show Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
The show features a performance by a digital rendition of Michael, which the company also contends is an unlicensed use of its technology.
The case is being handled in a Los Angeles court and Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts have been granted an extension until May 23 to respond to the lawsuit.