April 2011 - MJ Estate and HTWF argues about jury trial - non jury trial. This is my post about it



Estate requests a non-jury trial as they are not asking for any damages and asking only for injunctive relief . In other words they only ask the court to [U]stop[/U] Melissa Johnson and fake HTWF from using Michael's name, image and likeliness and want Michael's trademarks and government records to be corrected. 


HTWF lawyer argued that Estate initially wanted a jury trial and later just changed their minds and just did a verbal request on [U]March 29[/U] for a non-jury trial. 



In reality what happened was that some claims was rejected by the court and therefore it became a no damages - injunctive relief type of case. And more importantly (and funnily) Estate and HTWF had filed a joint "proposed pretrial conference order" on [U]March 7[/U], agreeing to a non-jury trial. 


So it looks like either HTWF's lawyer signs and agrees to stuff without reading as he believed the request being done verbally on March 29th or he forgot that he sent a joint written request on March 7th.


and let me tell you something -


When Marc_vivien and I were reading HTWF lawyers claim about "only verbally requested on March 29", we were able to remember that we read "non-jury trial" being mentioned on a document before. More than that we were able to find the document. So you can see that our knowledge of what's happening in the case looks better than HTWF's lawyer.


Furthermore Marc and I speculated that the Estate would mention the signed document in their response and this is how they started their response to HTWF's jury trial " Defendants’ counsel participated in the preparation of, and signed a pre-trial order that stated that “there are no issues to try to a jury.”




April 2011 - Branca files his witness statement. This is summary of it




- Michael started working with Bravado through AEG before his death for TII concerts. He says that Michael personally approved 295 designs. 

- Branca says after Micheal's death as the estate they took over the agreement with Bravado from AEG and worked on modifying it as the situation changed. Court approved this modified merchandise agreement.

- Branca says during these modifications, negotiations, court review etc was happening with Bravado on August 7, 2009 he received a letter from HTWF's lawyer.

- HTWF's lawyer tells Branca that HTWF owns those trademarks (such as MJ, Michael Jackson, King of Pop used) in the merchandise and Estate and Triumph Inc. didn't own them.

- They see this letter as an effort from HTWF to hurt and stop the deal with Bravado. 

- Branca asks a law firm to contact HTWF. Discussions go on and Estate doesn't agree with HTWF's claim that they own the trademarks. 

- so they file a lawsuit very similar to other hundreds of lawsuit they filed through their lawyers and Bravado's lawyers all around the world to protect Michael's trademarks and right of publicity.

- Branca mentions Oxman's conflict of interest and how he represents Joe against the Estate.

- Branca mentions Mann, what he has done and their lawsuit against him. 

- Branca mentions although it's not relevant to this case he wants to state on his and McClain's behalf  that for the 16 month period of June 2009 to October 2010, Estate distributed or paid more than $9 Million for the benefit of Katherine and MJ's children and rejects the claims that Estate isn't properly caring for them. 

- Branca mentions Melissa Johnson's so called "revival" of HTWF and how they didn't approve the revival of 1991 charity.

- He calls her "bizarre" and "obsessive", mentions how she got a message from an "angel" or "spirit", calls her books and charity objectives "grandiose and unworkable", says that she showed "disdain" towards anyone that doesn't agree with her demands and calls her actions "questionable". He finishes with saying she's not someone that him and McClain would ever want or ever allow to "represent" Michael's charitable legacy in any way. 


I'll quote Branca's exact words so that you can understand how he sees Michael's charitable legacy.


"Mr. Jackson had been known throughout the world during his life, and quite correctly, to be an extraordinary charitable man. Mr. McClain and I intend to honor as best as possible Mr. Jackson's last charitable bequest as provided in the Jackson Trust in a manner that will reinforce, enhance and emphasize Mr. Jackson's reputation and memory. Mr. Jackson's last charitable bequest should be as great a memorial and testimony to his achievements and to him as is his incredible body of creative work that he has left behind. There has not yet been any final decision made as to the manner in which Mr. Jackson's last charitable gift will be carried out."





Evan Spiegel's statement


- 2002 Michael's assitant Evvy Tavasci notifies Spiegel about the letters she and other MJ's staff received from Melissa Johnson. Melissa also send a package to Michael with Evy's name. Spiegel looks to these items (one of which is the letter in which Melissa writes that an "angel" told her that she would work for HTWF) and asks another lawyer - Brian Wolf to send a letter to Johnson asking to stop contacting people. 

- Melissa responds to Wolf's letter as well as Evvy Tavasci apologizing but states that she doesn't believe Michael was disturbed and she won't stop contacting Michael.

- After she understand that Michael no interest in her and HTWF, she tries to sell the domain names she registered (without authorization) to Michael.

- As the negotiations were taking some time and people really weren't responding to all her demands , she sends a email to Spiegel insulting him calling "flippant and insulting".

- 1 year later in 2003 Melissa contacts Evvy Tavasci  once again to sell the 850 + domain names. 

- The sale happens in 2003 with Michael paying $26,726 for domain names and Melissa signing a document saying she did this on her initiative and she transfer her rights on the domains to Michael.

- 1 year later in 2004 Melissa once again contact Spiegel about the "charity book" she gave them as she was concerned about its safety. 

- Spiegel tells her that book and the domains are handled appropriately. Spiegel also tells her they cannot tell her anything about their communications with Michael (about these stuff) as it was privileged. 

- Melissa again responds with a rude email to Spiegel saying that he was "bullying" her and had other accusations and derogatory statements towards him. 

- Spiegel also says that Melissa thought transferring the domains were "millions of dollars worth donation to Michael's charity" but he doesn't see the logic in this as Michael paid to get those domains.


April 2011 - MJ Estate Trial Brief



Estate has filed their trial brief. They say that


- Michael never gave written authorization to Melissa Johnson (and Melissa Johnson, Mel Wilson and Brian Oxman all acknowledged this at their depositions).

- Again Oxman's conflict of interest - as he represented Joe against the executors - is  mentioned.

- Estate raises serious concern about the letter Oxman gave to HTWF (in that letter Oxman states that Michael gave his verbal approval to Melissa Johnson). They say that Melissa Johnson never mentioned receiving a verbal authorization from Michael through Oxman until September 2010 (estate cites the previous important documents such as Melissa's objection to preliminary injunction and say that Oxman's name, his authorization etc was never mentioned). Estate questions the credibility of Oxman's letter and statements.

- Estate argues that even though Michael approved and “requested” Ms. Johnson to “preserve and protect it and HTWF's trademarks" as Oxman claims , she went extreme. They mention that Michael's 1991 charity only owned the trademark of "Heal the World" and associated logo (child hand holding the globe). They argue that registration of trademarks such as "Thriller", "King of pop" and selling merchandise with these goes beyond "preserving HTWF".

- Estate mentions emails from Melissa Johnson to Michael's representatives at 2008 - 2009 and that in those emails she asked for Michael's "permission" and "approval". They argue that this shows that she didn't have Michael's permission or approval (as she continued to ask for it) and knew this.

- Estate says as they represent Michael they can grant or terminate any authorization for the use of trademarks.

- Estate says that they have no plans to grant her any authorization as Melissa was acting against the Estate.

- A shocker (or perhaps not) : Estate mentions an email Melissa sent to Jackson's lawyers on August 6, 2009 saying "with the trademarks that the charity has registered and pending first in line, the Jackson family can take back control of the estate, without contesting the will."

- This is the same date HTWF lawyer sends a letter to Branca saying that HTWF owns the trademarks and Triumph and Estate doesn't.

- They say even if Michael (licensor) authorized her (licensee) law doesn't allow licensee to use the rights against licensor (Michael = Michael Jackson Estate). In layman terms they say that "even if Michael gave her the rights to use a certain trademark, she can't legally use these rights to hurt Michael or his successor - the Estate".

- Estate mentions that she was never a director or officer of MJ's 91 HTWF. They mention that according to the rules of MJ's 91 HTWF, the director can be selected at an annual meeting or by writing. As Michael was the only permanent director and nominating committee member it would require a meeting that he attended or a document he signed.





Oxman Testimony


-ah Oxman Oxman Oxman. Minute 1 fail 1 : Oxman states " I have been released from all confidentiality obligations regarding Michael Jackson". There's an attached letter from Branca in which he states " I waive attorney client privilege in regards to Melissa Johson, HTWF. Your authorization to waive privilege doesn't extend beyond issues of this lawsuit and it's limited to this deposition". It's not "all" and it's certainly "limited".

- Nov 2004 Melissa calls Oxman talking about how no one runs HTWF.

- Oxman claims she had been working with Michael before for a long time.

- She asks Oxman to deliver a proposal to Michael, gives him a 350 page booklet.

- Oxman gives the proposal booklet to Michael in Neverland in which he says his mother and father was present.

- According to Oxman Michael authorizes her to go on with HTWF as he was busy with the trial.

- March 15, 2005 Melissa gives Oxman more materials to give to Michael.

- Oxman claims Michael looked to them at the courthouse while in a small room (while going through trial if you believe) with his mother and father present.

- Double check Katherine's statement : nope she doesn't mention seeing the booklets with Michael.


So Michael tells her to run it as he was going to busy with the trial and yet he looks to booklets during the trial at breaks. Is that it?



Howard Mann Testimony


- Acknowledges he never met or spoken to Michael.

- Buys the property from Vaccaro in September 2009.

- First mets Johnson in summer of 2010 because Katherine's manager asked him to.

- If you wonder why because they came to an agreement which would allow vintage pop to use HTWF's trademarks for 10 years.





Melissa Johnson Testimony


- She started working on charity initiates in 1993.

- Meets Rabbi Boteach in 2001. She thinks Boteach doesn't have the best interest of HTWF and she starts [B][U]her own[/U][/B] charity.

- Contacts Evvy Tavasci in 2001, sends her a 900 page book, doesn't hear anything back.

- She says she realized there were gatekeepers and she successfully started working with Jackson reps Spring 2002.

- She starts communicating with Evan Spiegel but that relationship gets strained over time.

- She says 2 months after she sent a charity book mentioning Michael's Army, Michael used that in his 45th birthday speech "It was YOU on a worldwide basis, who supported me as my army, my soldiers of love”. She says she invented Michael's Army and Michael's Army of Love.

- She says that Michael's use of "army" and "army of love" showed her that Michael begun to receive copies of her book (so she actually had no idea before) and she got more encouraged. (side note: anyone remember Billie Jean Jackson's claims that songs lyrics were Michael's message to her)

- And perhaps even more interestingly Mel Wilson who works at HTWF says that "Michael's army" means "recruit HTWF volunteers, devoted to character improvement and community service". So does it seem like Michael in his 45th birthday was saying we supported him through our community service?

- She says she was the first one to suggest Cirque de Soleil and multi player game (similar to Planet Michael).

- She says she asked to return the domain names to HTWF after Michael's death and she's told that they didn't want the domain names. (Isn't this the same time she's offering trademarks to Jacksons to get the Estate?)

- Mentions her disagreements with Spiegel in detail.

- Then comes Oxman that gives her Michael's verbal authorization.

- She acknowledges that the trademarks are not only associated with Michael but named after him.

- She attacks Mark Harrison but doesn't really make sense at least to me. She says she contacted him as she was told he was Michael Jackson's lawyer and that he helped her. Later on she finds a letter saying Mark Harrison was working for Michael and now Michael's Estate and this was conflict. But she already knew that he was working for Michael when she contacted him.

- Like Marc has already mentioned she claims she was the "sole director" of HTWF at the time of Michael's death. However she completely forgets that Michael was the permanent director so even if she was given the position of director she would have been co-director with Michael and with Estate (after Michael's death).

- If you wonder to what happened to donations "Every penny donated to Michael’s Charity has been used to capture domain names on Michael’s behalf, register trademarks on behalf of Michael Jackson, and for the sole purpose of following Michael’s directitives and wishes expressed to me during his life".

- Let's insert Raymone Bain declaration here: "Mr. Jackson's utmost concern was that funds would be funneled for its approved charitable purposes and not be eaten up as he said was the case for administrative costs". As you can see not using donations to help people but to get trademarks was against Michael's wishes even if you choose to believe HTWF.

- She says she doesn't need a licence from Michael because she's not a separate entity from Michael.



the exact quote


At all times, I operated pursuant to an agreement between Michael Jackson and myself. I do not have a license of any kind to use Michael’s name and likeness or to do any of the acts I have been alleged to have committed because I am not a separate entity from Michael Jackson. I am perpetuating Michael Jackson’s own proprietary interests. One does not grant a license to himself.