Fox Network is suing California Corporation Empire Distribution, Inc. to assert the rights to “Empire,” “Empire Distribution” and “Empire Recording.” Empire Distribution, a music distribution company initially sued Fox Network on February 16th for $8 million to resolve potential trademark infringement and dilution claims. Then the company sent Fox a second claim with three options: “(1) Fox could pay $5 million and include artists that defendant represents as ‘regular guest stars’ on the fictional television series Empire; (2) Fox could pay defendant $8 million; or (3) Fox could stop using the word ‘Empire.’”
In the lawsuit, Fox says Empire Distribution is not a well-known record label that only displays on Google’s seventh page. Although popular artists, such as, Kendrick Lamar, N.O.R.E and Sean Paul have released past work via Empire Distribution, the corporation never applied for a federal trademark registration of the name “Empire,” and applied for a non-electronic music recordings in January 2014 that is still pending.
Fox refuses to pay Empire Distribution and it is counter-suing the business in order to protect its intellectual property rights of Empire and its soundtrack. The Hollywood Reporter quotes Fox’s attorney Putnam from O’Melveny & Myers:
“Unfortunately, success today can often make creators a target for a myriad of baseless legal claims. 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.”