On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, his estate sued a nonprofit run by the iconic leader’s daughter, claiming she plans to keep using her father’s “irreplaceable” memorabilia despite no longer being licensed to do so.
In a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in Fulton County Court, the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. — run by King’s sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King — claims it licensed the civil rights activist’s intellectual property rights to The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in March 2009.
The King Center’s CEO is Bernice King, the youngest child of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968.
Dr. King’s estate claims it supports the center’s mission to maintain King’s legacy and has been the nonprofit’s single largest individual donor for the past decade.
But it says the center has been careless with Dr. King’s intellectual property, which includes the leader’s “name, image, recorded voice and memorabilia,” along with “all works of authorship … including writings, speeches, sermons, letters and copyrights,” trademark interests, and “the remains and coffin contained within the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
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