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August 6, 2009

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The selling of Jackson heats up in court action

MICHAEL Jackson products could start appearing on store shelves, cell phones, even in X-Box add-ons if a judge signs off on a merchandising deal.

The current administrators of the singer's estate have presented several proposed contracts to a probate judge for approval.

The agreements offer a taste of how the King of Pop may be sold in the coming months and years.

Trading cards, T-shirts, calendars, lighters, stuffed animals that play Jackson's music and games are among the tangible items being considered.

So too are denim products and high-end clothing lines, according to the filings in Los Angeles.

But Jackson seems destined to try to conquer the digital domain too. Some of the possible products include cell phone screen savers, X-Box themes, video games and digital tattoos for characters in games such as "Second Life."

The proposed deals are between Jackson's estate, concert promoter AEG Live and Bravado International Group Merchandising Services. The contract calls for Bravado, which is Universal Music Group's retailing arm, to receive global merchandise rights. AEG Live will retain rights to sell certain merchandise related to Jackson's canceled London performances.

Despite a tainted legacy while he was alive, some believe Jackson will beat Elvis Presley in annual merchandise sales. Presley's estate reported US$55 million in revenue last year, US$14 million of which came from retail sales.

A separate agreement is being pursued between the estate's administrators and Columbia Pictures for a feature length movie based on footage of Jackson's preparations for his 50 comeback concerts in London. The studio paid US$60 million for the rights to the project, the contract filed in Los Angeles Superior Court states.

Jackson's estate - which primarily benefits his mother and three children - would receive 90 percent of the profits from the film.


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