LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that the Billboard Music Awards can use a hologram of deceased pop icon Michael Jackson at this weekend's show, rejecting efforts from tech companies seeking to block the digital performance.
Judge Kent Dawson said there wasn't enough evidence to show the planned 3-D image would violate patents held by Hologram USA Inc. and Musion Das Hologram Ltd.
The companies own rights to technology known for digitally resurrecting deceased rapper Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella music festival.
"The court's decision is not surprising," attorney Howard Weitzman, who represented Jackson's estate and dick clark productions, wrote in an email. "The request to stop this extraordinary Michael Jackson event was ludicrous."
Plans to use the hologram during the show Sunday emerged with the lawsuit, but they weren't confirmed until the hearing Friday afternoon. Show producers had been promoting only a "history-making performance" at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena that would promote the singer's latest posthumous album, "Xscape."
Hologram USA and Musion said in their emergency lawsuit Thursday that one of their products was being used without authorization by a competitor to create a segment that depicts Jackson performing a new song, "Slave to the Rhythm."
Dawson noted that the lawsuit didn't provide evidence that the company's patents were being used to create the Jackson hologram, and attorneys for the defendants said the techniques being used were in the public domain. Technology and visual tricks that can create holographic-type images have existed for decades, although the Shakur performance sparked more interest in creating realistic performances of dead celebrities.
Attorney Michael Feder, representing the show and Jackson estate, filed a response Friday, saying the holographic performance had been planned for months and was discussed with Alki David, who owns the rights to the technology that creates and projects lifelike images to appear alongside live performers through Hologram USA and Musion.