According the to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking a declaratory judgment that will support its continued use of the title “Empire” for its television series of the same name. This trademark suit comes after the Network received demands from Empire Distribution (a company that represents musical artists such as Sean Paul and Kendrick Lamar) to cease use of the title or pay for its use. On March 6, Empire Distribution sent a letter to Fox demanding that Fox either pay $5 million and make some of Empire’s clients guest starts on the show, pay Empire $8 million, or cease use of the title. Rather than submit to Empire’s demands, Fox filed this lawsuit.
The Network believes it has a strong case as Empire Distribution previously filed for trademark registration for the name “Empire” in connection with non-electronic music recordings, and was denied trademark protection due to a likelihood of confusion. Similarly, many other companies and products have used the word “Empire” as well, including a film entitled “Empire Records.” Therefore, it is likely that the term may be too generic to allow to Empire Distribution to have any hold over its use. Yet, until the court issues a decision, the dispute is far from over (as evidenced by judgment in the Blurred Lines case earlier this month, which also began as a request for a declaratory judgment).