Miller v. Glenn Miller Prods.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
454 F.3d 975 (2006)
Glenn Miller was a famous musician who formed the Glenn Miller Orchestra (GMO). Glenn and his wife, Helen, had two children, Steven Miller and Jonnie Miller (plaintiffs). Glenn died, and Helen inherited his intellectual-property rights. In 1956, David Mackey, Sr., Glenn’s attorney and friend, incorporated Glenn Miller Productions, Inc. (GMP) (defendant). Mackey served as president of GMP, and Helen served as vice-president. In 1956, Helen and GMP entered a trademark, name, and likeness licensing agreement (1956 agreement), wherein Helen granted to GMP the right to the use of Glenn’s name, likeness, and catalog of music in exchange for $1. In 1961 GMP sublicensed its 1956 agreement rights to the producer of a television show. When Helen died in 1966, Steven and Jonnie inherited Helen’s intellectual property. Steven and Jonnie litigated with Mackay in the late 1970s, resulting in a settlement wherein Steven and Jonnie ratified and extended in perpetuity the 1956 agreement. Beginning in the 1980s, GMP began sublicensing the right for third parties to operate orchestras using the GMO name. Steven claimed that he learned about the sub-licensing agreements in 2003. Steven, Jonnie, and CMG Worldwide Inc. (CMG) (plaintiff), which was Steven and Jonnie’s licensing agent, filed suit against GMP in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging 11 claims, including breach of contract, which was based on GMP’s sublicensing its trademark rights under the 1956 agreement to third parties to operate orchestras called GMO. Steven, Jonnie, and CMG moved for summary adjudication of one issue: that GMP could not sublicense any trademark rights under the 1956 agreement because the sublicensing rule should apply to trademarks. GMP asserted the doctrine of laches as its defense and moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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