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Twentieth Century Fox Television v. Empire Distribution, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
875 F.3d 1192 (2017)


Empire Distribution, Inc. (defendant) was a well-known record label that produced and released hip hop, rap, and R&B music. Twentieth Century Fox Television (Fox) (plaintiff) was a media company that created, produced, and aired a television show entitled Empire, which portrayed a fictional hip hop music label. Fox promoted Empire in a variety of formats, including through soundtrack albums that included music played on the show. After Empire Distribution sent a claim letter to Fox, Fox sought a declaratory judgment that the show and associated musical releases did not violate the Lanham Act or state law. Empire Distribution counterclaimed, alleging that Fox’s use of the name “Empire” amounted to trademark infringement as well as other violations of the Lanham Act and state law. The district court granted summary judgment to Fox on all claims. Empire Distribution appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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