I have decided to pick up old MJ projects from time to time to see what happened with them. If you are curious about any of them, message me here.
The first choise of mine was "MJ Licensing LLC", a complete mistery for many of us. Until now.
This story began in 1997 when a German businessman, Dieter Wiesner approached MJ for creating a soft drink called "Mystery". The project failed as soon as a competing comapany launched legal actions against the entity behind "Mystery" for trademark violation. Neverthless MJ asked Wiesner to rebuild his merchandising business in 2000. Within a few months Wiesner set up a company named "MJ Net Entertainment AG" (MJNE) and signed several strategic partners. MJ orally and in written agreements promised to give some rights to MJNE. MJ's previous licensing agent, "Signatures Network" (Sony) sued both of them for breaching a previous contract for the same rights. After years of litigations on court the parties settled the case.
MJ set up a new company in October 2003 named "MJ Licensing LLC" (MJL) co-owned with Gunter Backer. The directors appointed Wiesner as the CEO of MJL and MJ promised him to be compensated for the loss of MJNE. Finally MJ decided not to give any rights to MJL and terminated any professional relationship with Wiesner at the end of 2003. MJ thought that Backer did not meet with all the obligations they agreed on.
Three years after the setup of MJNE and bills amounting around $8 million Wiesner decided to sue MJ on a Los Angeles court. The two reached an agreement in September 2007 what Wiesner commented for me like "it was a gentleman's settlement". The details were never published, however MJL kept releasing so called official items without either MJ's involvement and legal threats. More likely the two agreed on giving certain rights for MJL. In the meantime MJNE was closed in Germany, Wiesner had to appear on court and certain partners demanded for money. In one case a court ordered MJNE to give the MJ HIStory logo to a company they owned money.
All over the time it was Wiesner behind MJL under different project names and domains, among others:
mj-licensing.com, michaeljacksonlicensing.com - online with tribute text
mjlicensing.com, mj-licensing.de - offline
mjj-merchandising.com, www.mjj-merchandising.de, michaeljacksonshop.de, michaeljacksonshop.com - online with a list of old releases
Wiesner was helped by certain individuals, mostly by Stefan Munstedt. He owned mijac.org and some of the other domains, and was responsible for projects. In early 2006 Wiesner and Munsted added a Bahrain representation to their already existing German and US ones under "ML Publishing LLC" (MLP). I was told back then that MLP had a licensing approval from both MJ and Sony. I guess it was the same old agreement of MJNE's.
ml-publishing.com, ml-publishing.de - online with contacts
How about MJL's present and future? Since MJ's death MJL granted some European companies with MJ licensing rights. In one case MJL's approval crossed lines with the Estate's plans, because both of them appointed entities to license MJ related official costumes. The two manufacturer ended up at court late last year. The fact that the parties agreed out of court and that MJL still exists and operates means that the Estate can not or would not do anything with them. MJL launched several new items like a CelebriDuck last September.
According to the 2003 MJL agreement the company's rights will live until June 20, 2012 and might be limited to some parts of Europe. At least the 50% of the incomes goes to the Estate anyways (I have been told by an insider in 2007 that this might be up to 75%).