Jackson family looks to create official MJ merchandise range
LONDON - The estate of Michael Jackson has applied to create exclusive merchandising deals for a number of products related to the singer including clothing and stuffed toys.
The estate has applied to a California judge for the rights in an effort to head off the large number of Jackson-related unlicensed products being sold in the aftermath of his death.
Products under consideration are believed to include stuffed toys that play the singers music as well as traditional merchandise such as calendars and t-shirts. The deal involves Jackson's estate, AEG Live, and Bravado International Group Merchandising Services.
Jackson’s estate has been partially forced into the move because while he was alive his name was only registered as a trademark on sound recordings, video and films about music and entertainment. He also owned a patent on a shoe similar to that used in his Smooth Criminal video, which expired in 2005 because he failed to pay a $2,480 maintenance fee.
The move by Jackson’s estate is similar to that by the estate of Bob Marley earlier this year. Private equity house Hilco Capital paid Marley’s family $20m (£13.3m) to acquire half of 'The House of Marley'. It has applied to create clothing, food and even video games using Marley’s name.
Elvis Presley’s enduring popularity in merchandising terms has proved there is a market for dead pop icons. Despite dying in 1977 his estate brought in $55m last year, including $14m from retail sales. The rest was made up from spin-offs such as royalties from DVDs and events at Graceland.
Ian Downes, founder of Start Licensing, which handles licensing for clients including DC Thompson said Jackson's estate would probably look to create a long-term merchandising strategy. To do this it would be likely to stick to straightforward merchadise such as apparel and collectables.
He said: "There has to be an appropriate long term strategy. Look at Elvis, his estate built up a strong legacy and sold the intellectual rights last year. They were able to do that because they were able to demonstrate it was a sustainable piece of business. I suspect Jackson's estate will have the same aim."
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