Michael Jackson estate goes after 'Heal the World' charity

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Michael Jackson estate goes after 'Heal the World' charity

Thu Oct 01, 2009 @ 11:55AM PST

By Eriq Gardner


As the administrators of Michael Jackson's estate and the late singer's family continue to squabble over assets, hopefully all parties can at least agree that there's no place for a purported charity that allegedly tricks Michael Jackson fans into giving it money.

John Branca and John McClain, administrators of the estate, have filed a lawsuit in California district court against the Heal the World Foundation, a company formed the day Michael Jackson died to carry on the work of Jackson's Foundation.

According to the complaint, two days after Jackson's death, HTWF president Melinda Johnson posted a message on the Internet that said, "It is unclear if the Jackson Family will want to continue his charity work and humanitarian legacy and in what matter. The staff at HTWF only ask that the public be patient with us and allow the family time to grieve as we wait for the direction they would have us go..."

After the posting, fans debated the legitimacy of HTWF but some confirmed it had donated money. Jackson once wrote a hit song called "Heal the World," registered the trademark, and donated a lot of money to charity, but the plaintiffs say HTWF has no connection with the Jackson family at all. Suing for trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, and violation of publicity rights, Branca and McClain ask for a permanent restraining order.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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