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Miller v. Glenn Miller Productions

318 F. Supp. 2d 923 (2004)

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Miller v. Glenn Miller Productions

United States District Court for the Central District of California

318 F. Supp. 2d 923 (2004)

Facts

Steven Miller and Jonnie Soper Miller (Millers) (plaintiffs), children of the renowned orchestra leader Glenn Miller, sued Glenn Miller Productions, Inc. (GMP) (defendant) seeking, among other things, to bar GMP from sublicensing the intellectual property rights of their late father. Glenn Miller’s widow, Helen, inherited Glenn’s intellectual property rights when Glenn died in 1944 and bequeathed them with the residue of her estate to her children when she died in 1966. In 1956, Helen had conveyed to GMP the right and license to use the name and likeness of Glenn Miller and his library of music in connection with GMP’s business activities (1956 agreement). In 1988, GMP began sublicensing to third parties the right to operate orchestras called the Glenn Miller Orchestra. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Millers sent at least eight cease-and-desist letters to third parties who were using Glenn Miller’s name or likeness without authorization. However, the Millers did not communicate with GMP regarding its sublicensing activities or any other aspect of GMP’s business until they filed a lawsuit in 2003. The Millers filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that GMP’s sublicensing activities violated the 1956 agreement. GMP filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that it had the right to sell merchandise bearing Glenn Miller’s name and to sublicense multiple orchestras.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Matz, J.)

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