Uh Oh! Will Fox Be Forced to Give Up Rights to “Empire” Name?

Photo Source: prphotos.com

Photo Source: prphotos.com

They say it’s lonely at the top. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to stake a claim to the groundbreaking, wildly successful and brilliantly written Fox hip-hopera, Empire. A California-based corporation says they own the rights to the name and is making major demands. Biggie Smalls said it best, “more money…more problems”, or in this case, “more ratings…more problems”.

Is life imitating art? Someone is taking a swing at Empire in real life, but Fox just threw a serious counterpunch by filing a preemptive lawsuit. Here is an excerpt of what The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported on the story:

In response to a demand that it pay $5 million and cast several artists in the hit TV series Empire, Fox filed a trademark lawsuit on Monday seeking a declaration that it has every right to use the show’s title…

In this instance, Fox is suing Empire Distribution, Inc., which is identified as a California corporation that has not only come forward asserting rights to “Empire,” “Empire Distribution” and “Empire Recordings” but has also in a demand letter claimed trademark dilution by tarnishment via a series that features “a label run by a homophobic drug dealer prone to murdering his friends.”

Fox, of course, sees its Lee Daniels-created show about a feuding entertainment-industry family differently, especially now that it’s a massive success, attracting 16.7 million same-day viewers for its season finale. The show has also spawned a soundtrack album that debuted on top of the Billboard 200 chart…

Now wait – let me get this straight. Empire Distribution, Inc. claims the hit show is tarnishing their trademark, yet they’ve demanded that their artists appear on the show. If they believe the former is true, why request the latter? Hmmmm…I’m giving the side-eye on this one.

What do you think “Cookie Lyon” would have to say about all this drama?