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Heirs won't take chair sitting down

March 23, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Marlon Brando's heirs are suing a Canadian furniture company after making the company an offer it refused.

The late actor's family has been trying for months to get Palliser Furniture Ltd. to stop marketing a line of plush home theater chairs dubbed the Brando without a licensing agreement.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages but claims sales of the chair "exceed several million dollars on a worldwide basis."

"Marlon spent a lifetime protecting his brand and made it a priority that his name would continue to be protected on behalf of his children," said movie producer Mike Medavoy, co-executor of the Brando estate.

A spokeswoman for Winnipeg-based Palliser declined to comment on the dispute.

The Oscar-winning actor, who starred in "The Godfather," "On the Waterfront" and "A Streetcar Named Desire," died in 2004 at age 80. Since then, his estate, represented by licensing firm CMG Worldwide, has struck deals with Warner Bros., Electronic Arts and others for various products.

The family has repeatedly demanded that Palliser and its retailers stop using the Brando name without permission, said attorney Jeffrey Abrams of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro & Schulman in Los Angeles, who represents the Brando estate.

Abrams said a Palliser executive asserted in a Jan. 29 letter that the Brando chair was named in honor of a tourist destination on Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea.

Abrams said Palliser had a pattern of naming chairs for film icons, including the Cagney, the Bronson and the Eastwood. "I can't wait to hear what tourist destination the Eastwood was named after," he said.

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