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Singer-actress-celebrity Beyonce and her father-manager Mathew Knowles have parted ways — at least in their choice of lawyers — in defending a copyright case set for trial in Chicago next month. Over the past month Beyonce and Destiny’s Child Inc., the company named after her famous trio and run by her father, have tapped new and separate counsel. The case arose over the song “Cater 2 U,” which Beyonce recorded as part of Destiny’s Child and released in 2004 in conjunction with the group’s reunion album. Chicago resident Rickey Allen claims he wrote the song in 1992 and registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1994 before it made its way through intermediaries to the singers. In November 2006, Allen sued the performers, Destiny’s Child Inc., and related companies, including tour sponsor McDonald’s Corp., for copyright infringement, misappropriation, fraud and breach of contract, claiming damages of more than $500 million. All counts except the infringement claim have since been dismissed. The trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is scheduled to start Dec. 8 and is expected to last a week. Beyonce and her Destiny’s Child cohorts Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland are slated to be called as witnesses. Until October, Henry James Fasthoff IV, a shareholder with Stumpf Farrimond in Houston, and Donald Tarkington, a partner at Novack and Macey in Chicago, had been representing Beyonce and her former bandmates as well as Destiny’s Child Inc. and related corporate entities. They were hired in January 2007. But last month Fasthoff and Tarkington dropped out of the case and were replaced by Reed Smith partner James Hultquist and associate Raven Moore with respect to all the defendants except Destiny’s Child Inc. On Nov. 3, a day after the court issued an updated proposed pretrial order, Loeb & Loeb partner Douglas Masters, the Chicago-based co-chair of the firm’s intellectual property protection practice, and associates Thomas Jirgal and Julie Samuels filed appearances with the court to represent Destiny’s Child Inc. Fasthoff, who was the primary contact with Destiny’s Child Inc., wasn’t able to reach the Houston-incorporated company for a release of service in October, according to an Oct. 21 court filing by Tarkington. “Destiny’s Child Inc. has not been in contract [sic] with or provided any direction to movants with respect to substitution of counsel or the litigation of the case generally,” Tarkington wrote. Fasthoff and Hultquist declined to comment on the case. Tarkington and Masters couldn’t be reached for comment. Allen, who is represented by Chicago solo practitioner Matthew Wildermuth, has proposed a settlement of the case, but the defendants declined the offer and said they wouldn’t counter-offer, according to the pretrial order.

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