A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has cleared the way for Michael Jackson to pursue a lawsuit against Universal Music Group for breach of contract.

NEW YORK--A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has cleared the way for Michael Jackson to pursue a lawsuit against Universal Music Group for breach of contract.

Jackson can now conduct an audit of UMG's books dating back to 1994. The pop singer filed the suit March 19 in L.A. Superior Court.

In the same case, Judge Emilie Elias last Wednesday dismissed several of Jackson's royalty claims against UMG, ruling the entertainer couldn't claim royalties from record sales prior to 1994.

Jackson is accusing UMG of violating a 1980 agreement to pay him royalties from recordings he made with the Jackson 5 and as a solo performer from 1969 to 1976 for Motown Records, which is now owned by UMG.

In the suit, Jackson claims he reached a settlement with Motown in 1980, under which he gave up royalty rights for songs released before then, but that Motown was to supposed to pay royalties for previously unreleased materials and songs re-released on best-of compilations.

The judge last Wednesday limited Jackson to seeking damages for alleged nonpayment only as far back as 1994.

Jackson is seeking an accounting of royalties and unspecified damages. He also wants the 1980 settlement voided and seeks ownership of his Motown master recordings.

"We are confident the [claims] will ultimately be dismissed," says a spokesman for UMG, a unit of Vivendi Universal.

Los Angeles-based attorney Brian Wolf represents Jackson.