The owners of Marlon Brando's trademark rights say that Madonna made them an offer that they refused — and now they're suing the "Hard Candy" singer for ignoring their refusal.
Brando Enterprises filed suit in U.S. District Court in Central California against Madonna, along with Bhakti Touring, Inc., on Thursday, alleging that the Material Mom has been using the "Apocalypse Now" actor's image on tour without permission — in fact, according to Brando Enterprises, their representatives "expressly refused to grant such rights to the Defendants" when they were approached.
According to the suit, which claims misappropriation of right of publicity and federal trademark infringement, among other charges, Madonna's people first approached Brand Sense Partners, which represents Brando Enterprises, about licensing Brando's image for her Super Bowl halftime performance this year, and was granted the rights for onetime use. (Madonna's 1990 song makes reference to numerous celebrities, including Brando.)
After that, Madonna's camp once again approached Brand Sense Partners about using Brando's image for the current tour. During negotiations, Brand Sense was offered slightly more than the fee that it received for the one-time Super Bowl use, and the two parties didn't come to terms, the suit says.
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However, that hasn't stopped Madonna from using Brando's image on the tour anyway.
A spokeswoman for the singer has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
The suit is the latest development in an ongoing legal saga over the singer's use of Brando's image on her tour. In September, CMG Worldwide Inc., which handles trademark rights for numerous celebrities and attempted to negotiate the rights to Brando's image for Madonna's tour, sued Brand Sense, claiming that Brand Sense agreed to license the image for the tour for $5,000, then jacked up the price to $20,000.
Brando Enterprises is seeking general and special damages, as well as revenues and profits received as a result of using Brando's image, plus treble damages, statutory damages, attorney's fees and costs.
They also want an injunction barring Madonna from using Brando's image in the future.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.