Capitol Records Wins Motion in Lawsuit by Family of Chipmunks Creator

LOS ANGELES -- The family of the creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is seeking rights to the chipmunk characters Theodore, Simon and Alvin, lost a round in court Friday to Capitol Records.

Bagdasarian Productions, which represents the family, sued the record company Jan. 18 in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming breach of contract and conversion, and seeking an accounting of license fees and other revenues received by Capitol.

According to the lawsuit, Chipmunk creator Ross Bagdasarian granted Liberty Records Inc. recording rights to his music in 1968, but did not give the company the right to grant licenses to third parties to use the recordings in television programs, DVDs, movies and other ventures.

Capitol Records later obtained the Liberty's rights.

Bagdasarian died suddenly in 1972, and the family claims it was unaware of any agreement until last year, and that the contract does not cover representations of the characters themselves.

On Friday, Judge Teresa Sanchez-Gordon denied a motion by Bagdasarian attorney Joseph L. Golden to find that Capitol had a duty not to license uses of the sound recordings outside the recording field, which would have left it up to a jury to decide whether that duty was breached, as well as the other issues in the lawsuit.

The judge said Golden did not persuade her that his interpretation of the contract was correct.

The movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks" reached No. 1 at the weekend box office last year, and this year the Blu-ray DVD version of the movie also reached the top of the charts.

The dispute is scheduled to go to trial March 16.

Contact Us