New Lawsuit Filed Over Michael Jackson Hologram
Posted by Joseph Lee on 06.20.2014
A long complicated issue...
A month after the Michael Jackson hologram appeared at the Billboard Music Awards, a lawsuit has been filed over the matter. Hologram USA, owned by Alki David, tried to stop it originally by claiming it infringed on hologram technology he exclusively licensed. It was allowed to go on as scheduled. Now Pulse Evolution, whose animators and technicians worked on the hologram, is suing David for $10 million. In a suit filed on Thursday, Pulse called him a "charlatan who had no involvement whatsoever in the development of the Michael Jackson animation."
This comes after David's lawsuit. It named Prometheus Global Media (parent of Billboard Music Awards producer Dick Clark Productions) as a defendant, but it has now been changed to focus on Pulse and chairman John Textor. The executors of Michael Jackson's estate are also listed as defendants.
Pulse claims that David "falsely claimed credit for creating and developing the visual effects spectacle in a nationally-televised interview on CNN, in press releases and on his various websites operated by his company, FilmOn." It mentions his "outrageous antics" and being a "notorious infringer of intellectual property rights," including his fights with TV broadcasters. Pulse is upset that David tried to "divert public and industry attention away from Pulse Entertainment just as the company was being launched" and claims he used unfair business competition practices and trade libel. Pulse also said that before the Billboard Awards, David tried a "shakedown" to get credit on the basis of patent licensing from "a defunct company with no assets that had nothing to license in the first place."
The company is Musion Das Hologram Limited. David said it was connected to Europeans Giovanni Palma and Uwe Maas. Pulse has been doing business with a company called Musion Systems Limited, which itself is connected to Europeans Ian O'Connell and William James Rock. Eventually it will have to be decided how the technology has created, who owns the rights and the status of the Musion companies.
David's company claims they have a hold on the technology, a new version of a 19th century stage trick called "Pepper's Ghost", which involves projecting two-dimensional images on a 3D stage set. Hologram USA claims that it was used to create the Tupac Shakur hologram at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. David said he outbid Textor's Digital Domain to get the rights to the technology last February. He said that Pulse "elected to ignore the rights they previously sought to obtain" when they created the Jackson hologram.
David's complaint claims that it "rejected a proposal made by Textor and Pulse for a joint marketing agreement over the technology in April and May 2014 – days before Textor and Pulse used that technology without authorization to create the Jackson hologram."
The Pulse lawsuit states: "This mischaracterization of the [Michael Jackson] animation as a hologram highlights David's complete lack of technical expertise and involvement in the creation and development of the Michael Jackson Animation, insofar as the virtual Michael Jackson appearing at the Billboard Award Show was not a hologram at all, rather, it was an animation projected onto a screen. This distinction is lost on David, because he is nothing more than a fraud claiming credit for Pulse Entertainment's animation."
David's lawsuit mentions a USA Today story (with comments by Textor and Pulse CEO Frank Patterson) which said that Pulse used a variation of the same technique used to create Tupac. It reads: "After Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order in these court proceedings to enjoin Defendants from using the Patented Technology to create the Jackson hologram at the Billboard Music Awards, Defendants argued to this Court that they would not use the patented technology to create the Michael Jackson hologram. That argument is belied by the actual evidence. Initially, Textor attempted to obtain rights to the Patented Technology in the months and days leading up to the Billboard Awards because he knew those rights were required."
David's company is represented by Craig Newby and Ryan Baker. He said that Pulse have "created significant confusion in the marketplace" and "diluted the value of the Hologram USA brand," which is hurting his talks to recreate Elvis Presley and Bob Marley. Pulse (represented by Marty Singer and Todd Eagan) said David "hijacked" the start of their company and caused "immeasurable harm" to its "public relations, its reputation and brand."