It can’t be stressed enough how FOX’s Empire series catapulted to the front of the pack, exceeding all expectations and projections.
Which, has left a bad taste in the mouths of Empire Distribution, one of the most trustworthy music distribution services ever created. Ironically, Empire Distribution specializes in the realm of Hip-Hop and R&B, and have been responsible for servicing your favorite websites (Hip-Hop Wired included) and blogs with music from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Freddie Gibbs, Too $ hort, Snoop Dogg–you name it.
Yesterday, March 23, Twentieth Century Fox Television filed a federal lawsuit after the five-year-old Empire Distribution began to lay claim to the name.
In a press release sent to Hip-Hop Wired, Empire Distribution CEO Ghazi Shami explained, “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.”
Shami continued, “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,” said Shami. “This only makes the public confusion worse.”
Michael Hobbs, a partner with Troutman Sanders LLP, is representing Empire Distribution in the case and alleges that they reached out to FOX several times to solve the matter but were spurned at the mere thought. “The only alternative with which we are left is to litigate, which we will do vigorously to protect our client’s valuable rights,” Hobbs said.
According to TMZ, FOX’s said lawsuit is asking a judge to shoot Empire Distribution’s demand of $ 5 million if the show uses Empire Distribution’s artists as regulars or $ 8 million outright.
This is even uglier than Vernon Turner’s exit.
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