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Jackson's estate fights counterfeiters

August 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The King of Pop may be gone, but Michael Jackson's likeness could live on forever in merchandise if a judge signs off on new contracts proposed by the executors of his estate.A probate judge is deciding on the proposals that could translate into authentic Jackson products -- from T-shirts to calendars, to video games -- hitting store shelves in the coming months. The deal could mean millions for the Jackson family.

The deal was in the works months ago. All the products were in the pipeline were to be sold at the same time as Michael Jackson's concert tour. Since Jackson's death, the value of the items have increased, but so have goods produced by counterfeiters.

Items on the official Michael Jackson-Bravado Web site were designed by the pop star himself. Since his death, demand has multiplied. However, there is the demand on the street. Unauthorized images of Jackson are everywhere in L.A.'s garment district, and so are buyers.

"The way I look at it is, as long as it has Michael on it, that's the most important thing," said Keven Barney, a Jackson fan.

But it is not the most important thing to AEG-Bravado, or Michael Jackson's estate. In court this week, attorneys filed petitions to protect their valuable contracts. Bravado reportedly made $270 million in sales in 2007 for a stable of rock stars. They want to crack down on interlopers selling unlicensed items.

According to one marketing executive, "Pirating is not a victimless crime. It takes away not just from Michael Jackson's family, but everybody in the chain who brings these items to market."

As Eyewitness News examined unlicensed shirts, vendors ordered the cameras away.

Bravado wants to see unauthorized manufacturers shut down, as legitimate merchandise is bound for all the chain stores.

"Whether it's counterfeit or not, some people aren't fortunate to get the real thing, or buy it at department stores," said Barney.

Bravado says to avoid buying fake merchandise, consider the seller. Legitimate items will be at the mall and in major department stores.

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