TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION, et al v. EMPIRE DISTRIBUTION INC.
Here we have a situation where better title clearance reporting may have saved some headaches. Twentieth Century Fox received repeated demand letters from Empire Distribution Inc., claiming use of the title “Empire” infringed upon their record label name, and due to the homophobic and violent nature of character Lucious Lyon, was tarnishing their reputation.
Fox filed a preemptive lawsuit seeking a ruling that it can continue use of the title without infringement, and the case is currently ongoing. Among other demands, Empire Distribution Inc. demanded eight million dollars or five million dollars and the regular appearance of their artists on the television series. Further complicating the issue is the release of music from the series by Fox, which Empire Distribution Inc. claims is diluting their brand and confusing their customers.
Regardless of how the lawsuit turns out, a valuable lesson can be learned here. Proper title clearance reporting would have certainly found an existing music label named “Empire.” With this knowledge, it would have been a no-brainer for Fox to either strike a deal with the label or simply retitle their series. Instead, they will either be spending a lot of time and money on a legal battler, or at the very least pay out a large settlement to make the situation go away. Don’t let your project make the same mistake. To learn more about title reports, visit our title reports page.