It’s about freaking time.
The estate of Michael Jackson, represented by Howard Weitzman, has filed suit against Howard Mann and all his pseudonyms and DBAs.
The suit is all about Mann’s alleged copyright infringement: his jacksonsecretvault website, the picture book by Katherine Jackson called “Never Can Say Goodbye,” a recently announced Michael Jackson lithograph collection, and even the release of a “new” song last fall that turned out to be a remix of the Jacksons record “Destiny.”
Mann, if you recall, bought the contents of a warehouse of Jackson family memorabilia after its owner, Henry Vaccaro, filed for bankruptcy. Mann, who runs gambling websites out of Canada, then made a deal with Katherine Jackson to exploit the contents of the website. That included publication of “Never Can Say Goodbye.”
Mann always took the position–especially in talks with this reporter–that because he owned the physical contents of the warehouse he also owned the intellectual property rights–despite the fact that both the Jackson estate and Sony probably superseded him.
Mann kept pushing the envelope, using his relationship with Katherine Jackson as a shield. But now the estate, run by John Branca, has finally responded. The lawsuit is 53 pages long and quite explicit. In other words: the party is over.
The Estate calls Mann’s actions “rampant misuse of Estate assets” that has caused “consumer confusion.” Indeed, Mann thanks the Estate on his website, which the suit says makes it seem as though they condone and endorse him.
In a way, the estate is now exhibiting a little muscle in the direction of Katherine Jackson, whom they’ve supported financially since the day Michael died. Mann has always stated–including to me–that Mrs. Jackson was in need of funds becausde the estate was shortchanging her. How Mann replies to this lawsuit will be interesting, certainly.