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Even years after his untimely death, the name Michael Jackson continues to be dragged through the courts. This latest subject related to the deceased king of pop involves a hologram of Jackson expected to be used at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards.
A federal judge ruled that producers of the award show are allowed to use a hologram of the dead singer as part of a special segment in the telecast. Two technology companies, Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd., had filed a petition in a Nevada courthouse last Thursday against the Michael Jackson estate and the producers of the Billboard Music Awards. The companies were seeking to halt usage of their patented technologies to impose a lifelike image of Jackson during a live performance at the award show. Hologram USA is most remembered for creating the lifelike image of Tupac Shakur at the Cochella Music Festival back in 2012. The Tupac Shakur appearance has inspired other appearances from dead musicians like Elvis Presley and now Jackson. In the case against the Billboard Music Awards, the judge decided there was not enough evidence proving that usage of a Jackson hologram was a violation of any patents and furthermore no proof that Billboard Music Awards actually used Hologram USA’s patent to create the hologram special effect.
Responding to the lawsuit, Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Michael Jackson estate, called the lawsuit baseless and without merit. Weitzman said the owner of Hologram USA, Alki David, has attempted to make outlandish claims in the past with the exposure of a secret son by the King of Pop. Weitzman expressed he was not surprised by the court’s decision for producers to move forward with the use of the hologram. According to reports, producers immediately connected to the Billboard Music Awards did not want to comment on the subject of the lawsuit nor the judgement. Insiders with the production of Sunday’s event set to be televised from the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel, were afraid of spoiling what was being promoted as a history making television segment featuring Jackson. The segment is being built around the singer’s posthumously released album Xscape, and performing the single Slave to the Rhythm.
While owners of Hologram USA say they are disappointed with the judgment, this is not their first attempt to protect their patent. The company filed suit last March against the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, alleging the hotel’s unauthorized usage of digital technology of featuring images of Michael Jackson incorporated into its Michael Jackson ONE show. That case is being handled by a Los Angeles Federal Court awaiting a response from the defendants, with a deadline set for May 23.
Dead since 2009, Michael Jackson’s name continues to be brought up in a myriad of lawsuits. Most recently, the singer’s mother Katherine Jackson was caught up in a lengthy and very costly wrongful death legal battle against concert promoters AEG Live. The case did not go in Mrs. Jackson’s favor and subsequent attempts to appeal the ruling have been rejected by court judges.
Meanwhile with the subject of a hologram patent lawsuit now behind them, producers are promoting that the show will go on. While Michael Jackson will certainly not be there in the flesh, fans of the dearly departed superstar will get to experience the artist once again performing on stage in virtual form.
By Hal Banfield