Fox sues record label over ‘Empire’ title dispute
Fox has asked a federal judge to issue an order allowing the network to continue to use "Empire" as the title of its newest hit show after a record label demanded millions of dollars over use of the word.
Twentieth Century Fox Television filed the lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles seeking a judge's order that the network can continue to use the title "Empire" for its series starring Oscar nominee Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.
The lawsuit states the San Francisco-based record label Empire Distribution Inc., has sent letters demanding as much as $8 million from Fox. Empire Distribution claims the show's title is creating confusion with its artists and the network should either pay or change the show's title.
The lawsuit states Empire Distribution has a pending trademark application for use of the word, but that an initial filingwas rejected. The trademark application was filed after the showed premiered in January, the lawsuit states.
Empire Distribution's attorney Michael D. Hobbs Jr., did not immediately return a phone message.
"Empire" has become a hit for Fox, with its ratings rising each week and nearly 17 million viewers tuning in for the show's recent Season One finale. The show is about drama within a music and entertainment company run by Howard's fictional character, Lucious Lyon.
Music from the show has also been turned into chart-topping album.
The violent tendencies and homophobia of Lyon's character threaten to tarnish Empire Distribution's business, Hobbs wrote in a Feb. 16 letter.
Empire Distribution's "conduct threatens to place a cloud over Fox's intellectual property rights in the fictional television series 'Empire' and the Soundtrack Music," Fox's lawsuit states.