Michael Jackson’s estate filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Heal the World Foundation, accusing the organization of cyber-squatting, trademark infringement and using the late superstar’s name and likeness without permission to trick fans into thinking they are making donations to a Jackson-sanctioned cause.
According to the suit filed in Los Angeles by John McClain and John Branca, special administrators for the Jackson estate, the defendants have registered for six trademarks and applied for 41 additional ones. Those applications, the suit alleges, “uniquely and unmistakably point to Mr. Jackson and his persona” and are intended “to cause confusion, mistake and to deceive.”
Jackson established his own Heal the World Foundation in 1992, naming it after his hit song “Heal the World.” But that charitable organization has no relation to the defendants and ceased to function before the entertainer’s death. The suit alleges Heal the World cyber-squatted by establishing domain names including “mjaid.net,” “mjquotes.net” and “healtheworldfoundation.net” that Jackson’s lawyers consider deliberately misleading.
-- Chris Lee