Penthouse in April purchased Jill Kelly Productions assets for $1.765 million at a bankruptcy court auction.
In April, those assets included more than 200,000 burned or packaged DVDs as well as 65 unreleased masters, but Kelly maintains that the trademark on her name was not part of the transaction.
“The fight with Penthouse is over who actually owns the rights to the Jill Kelly name,” attorney Aram Ordubegian told XBIZ. “Penthouse believes that since it was allowed to buy everything that the debtor [Kelly] had, then they have that name now, and can use it for marketing or whatever else. But if the debtor did not have title to it, then it belongs to Jill and she can go forward with using it as a stage name.”
Ordubegian represents JKP creditors in the case, and said the outcome will have wide-ranging effects.
“The most pressing part is that it has a lot to do with the URLs that are out there—like JillKelly.com and JillKellyStore.com,” he said. “Obviously Penthouse would want that stuff so that it could control the Internet content and the Internet searches. They could use it to redirect people to their website.”
Ordubegian said that the Jill Kelly name may have been transferred to Penthouse in the bankruptcy sale, “because Jill had an employment contract with the corporation.
“She terminated her employment six or seven months before the bankruptcy was filed, so the issue becomes: Did the termination of the employment contract give her back the right to use her name?”
The case is important to Penthouse because it has been making new movies under the JKP name, and important to Kelly, who wants to use her name on her website.
Calls to Penthouse’s attorney were not returned at post time.
A temporary restraining order hearing on the matter is slated for Nov. 2.