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Fox Television Sues for Infringement of Empire Name

The overwhelming success of Fox Television's newest show, Empire, has prompted a legal battle over alleged trademark infringement.

It all started when Empire Distribution, a San Francisco record label and music distribution company, sent cease-and-desist letters to Fox Television, claiming rights to Empire, Empire Recordings and Empire Distribution and alleging that the hit show's name infringes upon those rights. Now, Fox Television has hit back, filing a complaint for declaratory relief.

The show is a family drama centered on the fictional Empire Entertainment, a powerful hip hop recording company, and stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Since its January debut, each episode of Empire has drawn more viewers than the last, a feat no other show in the past 23 years has accomplished. So, Fox Television is eager to "protect its intellectual property rights in and to" the breakout series, court documents show. In a life-imitates-art twist, Empire Distribution has released dozens of hip hop, rap, R&B, rock, gospel, Latin and pop albums, including several that have charted on Billboard.

Empire distribution is asking the court to require that Fox Television and show producers meet one of several solutions including paying the company $8 million; paying $5 million and including artists that the label represents as regular guest stars on the television series; or stop using the word, "Empire."

Fox Television is balking at those demands, pointing out that Empire Distribution, though founded in 2010, never registered for federal registration of the Empire trademark and asking the court to declare that the network's use of the word "Empire" does not in any way infringe upon any of Empire Distribution's right and requesting court costs.

The legal battle illustrates the importance of filing for federal trademark protection of your company's name and brand as early in your business dealings as possible. To assure successful filing of your trademark, contact Orlando's Daniel Law Offices at 866-37PATENT. 

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