Multiple estates have recently sued others regarding their intellectual propery and use of their image or likeness. The merchandising rights to celebrity images can be worth millions of dollars. These issues often cause disputes and estate litigation which the probate attorney blog reported for such estates as the Rick James estate, the Michael Jackson estate that just reached settlement and others have then these types of issues have also been a source of conflict in other estates such as the Martin Luther king beneficiaries and a source of potential disputes in the Elizabeth Taylor estate among the beneficiaries.
Chris Harnick of TV Squad.com reports that there is yet another estate who has to bring action to protect their interests. Tom Bosley estate who played Mr Cunningham on Happy Days is joining other actors who are not happy with how much merchandising money they are being given and have sued.
Anson Williams, Don Most, Marion Ross, and Erin Moran are also suing CBS over merchandising revenues for the use of their likeness. According to CNN, the actors claim CBS has cut them out of money they are owed for products such as T-shirts, comic books, dolls and DVDs.
The actors say that under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid 5 percent of the net proceeds if their sole image appeared on the product and 2.5 percent if their image appeared in a group.
Jon Pfeiffer, the attorney for the 'Happy Days' actors, expressed he will file the lawsuit to protect his clients financial rights and uphold their contract this week.
"The issue is the five cast members of 'Happy Days' were not paid for the royalties for their name and likeness," Pfeiffer told CNN. "That being the use of their picture, use of their name in slot machines, in games, in greeting cards, in T-shirts -- anything where you saw a 'Happy Days' face of a character, they were not paid for that."
CBS told the actors that they are owed between $8,500 and $9,000 for the last four years, most of the revenue coming from 'Happy Days' slot machines that bear their likenesses. However, the actors claim they are owed millions of dollars. However, CBS relayed to CNN that "We agree that funds are owed to the actors," and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue."
Additional 'Happy Days' products are being prepped to launch, including a lottery game.
As with any estate litigation and most lawsuits mediation was first attempted although unfortunately the attorney for the Happy Days actors reports mediation with CBS has been unsuccessful.
The tv show Happy Days started January 14, 1974 and lasted for 11 seasons, airing 255 episodes before its May 8, 1984 finale.