(AllHipHop News) News broke recently that San Francisco-based Empire Distribution filed a lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox over the hit television show Empire. Fox then counter-sued the indie label in an attempt to get the original suit dismissed. Ghazi Shami, CEO of Empire Distribution, has issued a statement regarding the legal battle with the network.
FOX’s Empire television program has created significant confusion with Empire’s products and services. Customers, artists and business partners have all expressed confusion to my employees, artists, and me as to whether the Empire program has any affiliation or business relationship with Empire. It does not.
Fox, through the Empire program, advertises, distributes, and streams music and sells downloads under the "Empire" mark. This music shares the same search terms as Empire’s music, the musical genres are identical, and the songs and albums are positioned in close proximity in online outlets such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, and Spotify. It isn’t just a fictional show; they are functioning as a record label in the real world. This only makes the public confusion worse.
According to a press release, Shami's Empire was founded in 2010. The company has offices in San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta. Empire distribution has reportedly released over 10,000 albums, 5,000 music videos and 100,000 songs.
Since its founding in 2010, Empire Distribution has assisted with the release of projects by artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Too $hort, T.I., The Game, Sage The Gemini, Migos and Rich Homie Quan. The company also focuses on R&B acts.
“We are confident that this is a textbook trademark infringement case,” states Michael Hobbs of Troutman Sanders LLP, the law firm representing Empire Distribution. “Empire was started over five years before the first broadcast of the show, the marks are identical, and they sell the same products to the same customers. The significant number of incidents of actual public confusion is disturbing.”
Empire contends the company attempted to contact Fox on several occasions in order to resolve the issue. Hobbs adds, “The only alternative with which we are left is to litigate, which we will do vigorously to protect our client’s valuable rights."