On May 16, 2014, U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson issued a ruling permitting the Billboard Music Awards to use a hologram performance featuring the deceased music icon Michael Jackson in an upcoming awards show.
The legal dispute over Jackson’s upcoming “performance” began after Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd. (the “Plaintiffs”) sued the Estate of Michael Jackson and dick clark productions, alleging that the planned spectacle infringed on patents the Plaintiff’s held in 3-D image projection technologies. The Plaintiffs are most well known for their use of hologram technology to resurrect deceased rapper Tupac Shakur for a show at the Coachella music festival in 2012.
In essence, the complaint alleged that the Plaintiffs’ patented technology was used without permission to create a segment where hologram Jackson performs the song “Slave to the Rhythm,” a track from his most recent posthumous album. Judge Dawson disagreed with the Plaintiffs, however, finding there was insufficient evidence of patent infringement to support the issuance of a preliminary injunction to prevent the upcoming performance.
Commenting on the ruling, Howard Weitzman (one of the attorneys for Michael Jackson’s estate) noted, “The court’s decision is not surprising. The request to stop this extraordinary Michael Jackson event was ludicrous.”
Despite the initial setback, Plaintiffs’ remain determined to wholeheartedly pursue the patent lawsuit. Ryan G. Baker, attorney for the Plaintiffs, stated “It’s only the beginning of a case that will continue to be prosecuted by my clients, and ultimately they are confident that they will prevail and will recover all available damages for the [ ] infringing conduct.”