The Personal Representatives of Michael Jackson's estate reached a settlement today with the Heal the World Foundation over use of the late entertainer's image and likeness, a court official confirmed.
Attorneys representing the estate and the charity met with a U.S. District Judge just prior to jury selection in the copyright infringement lawsuit was going to start in Los Angeles federal court.
Terms of the settlement were not publicly released. But TMZ.com reported that the founder of the foundation Melissa Johnson was given the right to use the late singer's name and image in association with the charity, while Katherine Jackson, Michael's mom, has become a member of the board of directors to supervise the nonprofit's work.
The litigation complaint filed in court stated that Johnson registered the names or phrases "Michael Jackson,' "King of Pop,' "Thriller,' "Neverland' and other words or phrases with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Those applications, according to the lawsuit, "uniquely and unmistakably point to Mr. Jackson and his persona' and are intended "to cause confusion, mistake and to deceive' the public into believing Johnson's charity has some connection to the pop star.
Attorney John Branca, a personal representative of Jackson's estate, previously said the estate sued in an effort "to be vigilant in protecting Michael's legacy from unauthorized exploitation and in protecting Michael's fans from being deceived.'
While Jackson did launch his own Heal the World Foundation in 1992, it had no connection to Johnson's organization and became dormant before the singer died of an overdose of prescription drugs in June 2009 at age 50, according to the complaint.
Johnson's foundation is described on its website as "a universal charity organization designed to improve the condition of all mankind.'
Attorney Branca is one of the top entertainment attorneys in the country and helped Michael Jackson purchase the Beatles catalog of publishing rights it owns with Sony which is likely the most valuable asset of the estate.