Twentieth Century Fox Television has filed a lawsuit asking that it be allowed to continue to use “Empire” as the title of one of its television dramas. This all started when a record label, Empire Distribution, sent letters to Fox demanding that it pay them $8 million for the use of the term “Empire.” Empire Distribution, an actual record label, claims that the company portrayed in the television drama is “functioning as a record label in the real world.”
You do not have to have gone to law school to see the fatal flaw in Empire Distribution’s claim of trademark infringement. Empire Distribution applied for the trademark “Empire” but its initial application was rejected, and the application was made after “Empire” premiered! Until Empire Distribution actually secures a trademark for “Empire” it will have to live with a television record label that uses its name. The lesson here: Apply for a trademark before someone else tries to use your brand.