The administrators of Michael Jackson’s estate have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Heal the World Foundation on the grounds that the foundation is illegally using trademarks and websites that give the false impression that Michael Jackson is associated with the foundation. In 1992, Jackson founded a Heal the World Foundation based on his hit single, but that enterprise was abandoned a decade later. The suit claims that “Defendants’ acts of infringement and unfair competition have been committed with the intent to cause confusion, mistake and to deceive” by including photos and trademarks of Michael Jackson, and statements made by Melissa Johnson, the founder of the Heal the World Foundation, which falsely suggest she had a history of working with Jackson’s charity. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated “cybersquatting” laws by registering domain names such as “mjaid.net,” “healtheworldfoundation.net,” and “mjquotes.net” that imply legitimate ties to Jackson and his estate. The website “healtheworldfoundation.net” has numerous sections devoted to Mr. Jackson and his charitable work. The defendants were also subject to a recent CBS investigative report, which concluded that their cause had become a “magnet for fans searching for a Michael Jackson charity.”This lawsuit is part of a continuing effort by Jackson’s estate to control unauthorized use of Michael Jackson’s name and likeness.
Adam Goldman contributed to this entry.