A charity that claimed to be successor to Michael Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation has lost the right to use the late singer’s name and likeness under a recent settlement with Jackson’s estate, according to the Associated Press.
The deal prevents a trial in federal court and concludes an 18-month battle between the nonprofit and Jackson’s estate, which alleged the charity misused trademarks and falsified an association with the Heal the World charity the singer abandoned in 1992.
Leaders of the new foundation claimed one of Jackson’s former lawyers gave them permission to take over the defunct organization in 2005, and according to TMZ, the organization appeared to have the support of the Jackson family itself. The foundation recently named the pop singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, to the board of directors and teamed up with the singer’s children, according to the Associated Press. Jackson’s father Joseph is also a member of the board.
Although the group claims to have a document with Jackson’s mother signature endorsing the charity, Katherine Jackson denies signing authority over to Heal the World and has publicly repudiated the group, according to TMZ.
Mrs. Jackson and one of the pop star’s ex-attorneys had planned to testify during the trial over
control of the trademarks. Further details of the settlement were not released.
As of April 22, the Heal the World Foundation’s (HTWF) Web site homepage stated that it is “NOT affiliated with the Executors of the Michael Jackson Estate, neither are any products sold on this site endorsed by the Jackson Estate.”
But in a statement responding to the suit, the nonprofit’s president, Melissa Johnson, expressed contempt at allegations that Jackson’s estate had to dissociate the pop star with the charity to protect his legacy and image.
“You don’t ‘protect’ yourself from a friend and we are no adversary. This is a terrible position we find ourselves in, but we cannot allow the estate attorneys to destroy the charity,” she wrote. “HTWF stands by its claims and its actions, all have been to preserve and protect Mr. Jackson’s humanitarian legacy and we emphatically deny these nefarious and misleading accusations.”