January 2011


MJ Estate sues Howard Mann.







- Estate is suing Howard Mann, Sonia Lowe (editor of the book and the website) , Vintage Pop Media (and several of it's sister corporations all owned by and connected to Howard Mann) and unknown does (such as affiliates, employees, agents, partner, representative, aider, abettor, co-conspirator, alter-egos)



- In short Estate didn't give them any permissions and any licences to use Michael's name or likeliness.


- [U]Website[/U] is mentioned as the place that sells all the copyright infringed items.


- [U]This is it[/U] artwork, trailer etc is used on the website. (vault videos and main site design)


- [U]The book[/U]:

--- 5 copyrighted hand drawn sketches of MJ are included in the book.

--- The book has "Special thanks to Estate of Michael Jackson" suggesting that this was approved by the Estate - which the Estate denies and calls it false endorsement

--- Howard Mann made a statement saying that "less than 48 hours they sold 25,000 copies" if truthful it means $1.5M in first 2 days only.


- [U]Lithographic collection event[/U]

--- used an unauthorized picture of MJ in their promotions

--- as we heard before some of the profits will go to the fake "Heal the World" - Estate says tries to create association between the Estate and the event and as well as Estate and Heal the world foundation.

--- Estate says despite their cease and desist and request to clearly say that 'MJ Estate wasn't in any way involved with this event', Mann didn't make any changes and continued to promote the event.


- Estate's legal claims

--- This is it copyright was infringed - by the pictures and videos

--- Opis None is a remix of "Destiny" which is released by Sony in 1978. As the song is still present in the website (with unauthorized MJ picture) this is again a copyright infringement. (Sony music authorized Estate to bring copyright claims.)

--- Content from 25th Anniversary DVD and CD of Thriller is presented on the website - another copyright infringement.

--- The book has "Bubbles Chair", "Key III", "Boy", "Happy Gate", "We the people" drawings - again copyright infringement.

--- Vintage Pop Media logo contains "Smooth Criminal Lean" on the left arm of "V". Again infringement. Also misleads public to believe that the items sold are associated/ allowed by MJ / Estate. Estate also wants Vintage Pop Media to remove the "Smooth Criminal Lean" from their corporate logo.

--- The "Special Thanks to the Estate of Michael Jackson" note on the book is deceiving people to believe that the book is affiliated/ authorized by the Estate. Estate makes a false endorsement claim for this.

--- The domain names "jacksonsecretvault.com" , "michaeljacksonsecretvault.com", "mjgives.com" and "mjduets.com"  has MJ's name, can deceive people to believe that estate is behind these domain names so Estate is making cyber squatting and cyber piracy claim and want the domains to be transfered to the Estate.

--- Misappropriation of likeliness claim for VPM logo (SC lean), MJ name/image/likeliness use throughout the website, MJ name/image/likeliness use for promotion of the book /products /lithograph collection

--- Unfair competition.


- Furthermore Estate wants the court to come to a decision (make declaration) about who owns what rights in regards to the items in the possession of Mann. (Such as "X have the rights to this and they can do this and that")


- Estate lists in a detailed format that they want the profits, punitive damages awarded by the court, legal costs, and injunction for the further and future activities.



Detailed explanation from TSCM about Vaccaro / Mann



Everything about the collection has been shrouded in secrecy and confusion. I did exhaustive research and investigation into the subject over the course of several years. In short, Henry Vaccaro owns Vintage Pop (Vintage Associates). He acquired the memorabilia collection and audio tapes years ago--even though the original court order forbade him from taking items belonging to MJ or Janet since they weren't part of the bankruptcy case that Katherine, Joe, and some other siblings were. A misguided ruling years later allowed Vacarro to quickly sweep up everything in there (MJ/Janet items as well) despite the original court order. Howard Mann is a business associate of Vaccaro who has helped with the Web site and marketing etc., they are both doing business under the Vintage Pop name.


They (originally just Henry Vaccaro) had worked on creating JacksonSecretVault and numerous variants of it for many years in order to charge money for online access to photos of these items. In 2004, MJ was successful in shutting down the first incarnation of the site (which was promoted by tabloids, Diane Dimond, etc.) due to the illegalities of the acquired collection which the court agreed with. In 2007, "Vintage Pop" aka Vaccaro made a deal to sell the collection to Richard Altomare of Universal Express, to auction everything off. The parties involved, including Richard Altomare, grossly exaggerated the value of these items (their estimates went as high as $200,000,000) but the auction actually grossed a mere $500,000. Henry V. wanted them to pay him $4 million for the collection but they only paid him $150,000 advance, and as such more litigation ensued and Vintage Pop resumed the alleged rights to the collection. MJ and Janet successfully sued Universal Express/Richard Altomare in 2007 after he circumvented a previously agreed upon settlement and tried to auction off items prohibited by the the agreement. Altomare was ordered to pay their legal fees and turn over the remaining collection he had. In the meanwhile, Vintage Pop and two other companies were also alleging ownership of the collection, but the other companies eventually buckled. Universal Express as a whole crashed and burned soon after the auction mess and is now completely gone--Richard Altomare served time in jail for unrelated fraud after this case concluded, and he never did pay the legal fees for MJ/Janet.


The audio recordings were also part of the Universal Express / Vintage Pop agreement. They had planned on holding multiple auctions, one of which would be for these audio recordings, but this was illegal as they are protected by copyrights. Altomare tried to sell them under the table at one point but was ordered to turn them over to court, although it took a long time for him to do so and he may have only turned over a small number of them to court. Again, they are protected by copyright and cannot be sold. Either way, shortly after all of this mess, Henry Vacarro/Vintage Pop created another site to try and sell the recordings which he still seemed to have access to. He posted terrible remixes of published songs and was seeking millions of dollars for them. However, the tapes were not unique or original as he claimed, but instead were audio tracks for the Jackson Variety Show from the 1970s and perhaps a few other known and released tracks from the Jacksons circa 1970s (e.g., Destiny). At the time, he described them as "unique mechanicals rerecorded for the Jackson Variety Shows which aired in the mid 1970's."


In 2008-2009 (before June 25th) he had another "J5 Secrets" operating where he was charging access for low resolution, watermarked photo scans of Michael and the family that he had acquired from the ill-gotten collection. To deter fans from investing in such a scheme that MJ and courts opposed, I posted higher resolution, unwatermarked versions of all the photos he was charging access for. Fast forward today, and now Katherine and other family members appear to have been suckered into these schemes by "Vintage Pop" aka Henry Vacarro and Howard Mann. Photos from the same collection that I shared long ago and what Vintage Pop tried to charge for have now been converted into the book that Katherine has been promoting through Howard Mann, which they are all trying to profit from...






Vaccaro's Youtube channel gets deleted due to copyright infringement complaints.




February 2011 TMZ Story



Katherine Jackson's business partner wants the MJ Estate off his back in a legal war over MJ merchandise ... claiming Michael himself picked the same fight when he was alive ... until he realized he couldn't win.


Long story short -- the Estate wants Howard Mann to stop using MJ's name and image to hock  various websites, books, and other products. Problem is, according to Mann, this is the exact same lawsuit that Michael pursued back in 2004 ... only to "abandon" the legal fight in 2006.


Mann claims ... because Michael bailed on the case, and a judgment was issued against the singer, he lost the legal right to stop Mann's company from using his image to sell merchandise.


Mann claims the the Estate shouldn't get a second bite of the apple ... by being allowed to sue for the same claims in 2011.


Now, the case is in the hands of a federal judge -- who will decide to either green light the case ... or shut it down.




Leslie posts about Mann's response http://lesliemjhu.blogspot.com/2011/03/michael-jackson-estate-vs-howard-mann.html


My additions to the above summary:



some additional information and copy-paste some quotes directly from Mann's response so that you can see the unbelievability of it yourselves.


- Mann is asking for the dismissal of the case mainly based on Michael tried and lost the case before and in some instances estate failed to send then cease and desist letter first.


- For Michael's 5 paintings they say the co-owner is Brett Livingstone Strong and that they got his permission to publish them.


- Exact quote about Michael's pose used in their logo


"Additionally, Michael Jackson was not the inventor or creator of this dance move -- or look -- or pose. It has been around for decades (or even longer) and has been used by countless dancers and musical entertainers before Michael Jackson ever started using it in some of his routines. That same dance move -- or look -- or pose was recently utilized in the choreography showcased in the movie entitled “Step Up 2” by the cast of street dancers featured in it."


- Exact quote about Katherine's Book and her thank you to the Estate


"Because the Estate is paying Katherine mere pennies on the millions of dollars the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate are taking – and keeping -- all for themselves, to themselves, she wanted to thank them for letting her preserve her memoirs as Michael’s mother for all of Michael’s fans. But apparently the “Estate” did not want Katherine Jackson to preserve her memories of her son and her family between the covers of a book and make it available for purchase by Michael’s fans. So the Estate’s trustees have stooped to filing suit against Mrs. Jackson’s business partners for what they deem ‘damages’ due the Estate of Michael Jackson arising from Michael’s own mother’s book sales. What is most germane in this case is that the Estate of Michael Jackson is supposed to exist and operate for the benefit of its beneficiaries, to wit: Katherine Jackson and Michael Jackson’s three children – not for the benefit and unjust enrichment of the Plaintiffs (trustees) who brought this suit on behalf of the Estate of Michael Jackson. Katherine Jackson has every right to use the materials in her book for money she desperately needs to protect and provide for herself and the children’s upkeep, since the Trustees are not adequately providing for her and

Michael’s children."


- Important note: Here Mann cites only the allowance of Katherine as money being given to her. He doesn't mention children's allowance, staff salaries, money given for holidays, renovations, mortgage, loan to Katherine etc etc.