FOX Files Lawsuit For 'Empire' Name Rights After Record Label Claims Negative Association With Hit Show
Up until now, there was no doubt in my mind that FOX's hit series Empire had succeeded in giving virtually everyone something to look forward to on Wednesday evenings (because who isn't totally obsessed with the show?). But, while fans of Empire are likely still trying to heave their leaden bodies off the floor after last week's breath-stealing season finale, it appears that the cutthroat music industry TV storylines have subsequently spilled over into some real-life legal troubles for the show. In a move that would likely evoke the venomous wrath of both Cookie and Lucious Lyon, TMZ reports that a record label is suing Empire because they don't want FOX to use that name.
Meanwhile, FOX has filed a lawsuit of its own to dispute the record label's claim that the network has no right to use the name. "Fox is seeking a court declaration that its use of Empire in no way violates any trademark rights held by the defendant," they said when Bustle reached out for comment. "It is illogical that anyone would equate a small, independent record label in San Francisco, California with a completely fictional music and lifestyle conglomerate on television."
Apparently, a company by the name of Empire Distribution that previously worked with big-name artists like Kendrick Lamar and Sean Paul claims that its reputation is suffering from sharing the same name with the increasingly popular musical drama, citing the show's portrayal of a record label executive as a "homophobic drug dealer prone to murdering his friends."
But wait — here's where things get really strange. Despite claiming that the show "tarnishes its brand," the gossip site reports that Empire Distribution is willing to settle the issue if FOX pays the company $8 million. Furthermore, they're reportedly willing to reduce that fee to $5 million if FOX regularly features the label's artists on the show.
Hmm. Well, that sounds like a rather confusing resolution to the purported issue at hand. If Empire Distribution claims that the name association with the FOX show has causes collateral damage, then it seems like that would directly contradict the company's proposal to collaborate professionally with a show that supposedly impacts its business in a negative manner.
“Unfortunately, success today can often make creators a target for a myriad of baseless legal claims,” said Marvin Putnam of O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, Fox’s outside counsel. “They hope you will just pay a little something from that success to make them go away. As underscored by today’s complaint, Fox has no intention of allowing anyone to leverage Empire’s success for their own unwarranted financial gain.”
Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX (2)