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Multiple licensing agreements and the trouble they can cause

When you were a kid, you probably didn't think too much -- if at all -- about how companies were able to sell products that contained the images of your favorite television characters. Now, as an adult, you have come to realize that this was made possible by carefully drafted licensing agreements that created a partnership between licensors and licensees who worked together to profit from their partnership.

If you're familiar with how the commercial and entertainment industries intersect though, you know that some companies and celebrities can have their hands in multiple licensing and merchandising agreements simultaneously. Although this is allowable by law, contractual agreements have been known to conflict with existing or newly established deals, which can lead to contentious litigation and necessitate the help of a skilled lawyer.

Take for example the recent case of Chinook USA, LLC v. Duck Commander, Inc. et al. For those unfamiliar with the case above, the source of contention stems from a series of licensing agreements made by Duck Commander Inc., made famous by A&E's television show called "Duck Dynasty," and three beverage manufacturers.

According to Chinook USA LLC, the plaintiff in the case, Duck Commander violated its exclusive license agreement by signing license agreements with the two other beverage manufactures, one of which is a competitor of Chinook USA. As a result of this perceived breach of contract, Chinook USA is seeking $4.5 million in damages.

Although the case is not being handled here in California, it still stands as an example of what can happen when the exclusivity rights of one licensing agreements conflicts with the terms of another agreement. This case should stand as a cautionary tale to our Los Angeles readers who are encouraged to talk to an experienced lawyer in order to make the necessary changes to new and existing agreements so as to avoid a potential breach of contract of their own.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Duck Commander Sued Over 'Si's Iced Tea'," Kevin Lessmiller, Jan. 5, 2015

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