In a lawsuit filed the Central District of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, Bruno Mars claims that his publishing deal with Bug Music terminated on May 12.
The suit alleges that Bug music failed to exercise its option in a timely manner. According to the suit, on April 28 Mars (real name: Peter Hernandez) sent a notice to Bug that the option to extend the agreement had not yet been exercised; Bug then had 10 business days to exercise the option by sending a written notice back to him. The suit alleges that Bug did not send a notice back to Mars until June 6, which stated that the company was exercising its option and made an undisclosed payment to Mars.
The suit says that Mars returned the payment to Bug and notified the company once again that the agreement was terminated. Consequently, the suit requests a judicial agreement that his contract with Bug be declared terminated, so that he may enter into a new agreement with another music publisher for all musical compositions not covered by his Bug agreement.
According to the court document, Mars' deal with Bug gives the firm 50% ownership in his songs. If the judge rules in his favor, the songs he wrote while under contract would remain under Bug's control for the life of copyright.
The lawsuit comes at a time when Bug is on the auction block. Since Bug will continue to own its share of the Bruno Mars compositions written while he was under contract to the firm, the lawsuit likely won't impact the deal's valuation.
Mars has landed in the Billboard record book as the artist to spend the most time atop the Adult Contemporary chart with a debut format chart entry, when "Just the Way You Are" spent a whopping 20 weeks at No. 1. He's also the first male artist since Richard Marx to send his first six singles into the Billboard Hot 100's top 10. Three of those reached No. 1: "Nothin' on You" (on which Mars assisted B.o.B) and his own "Way" and follow-up "Grenade." Mars' debut full-length album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 the week of Oct. 23, 2010, and has logged 47 weeks on the chart - all in the top 50. The set has sold 1.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Mars' management and representatives for Bug Music declined Billboard.biz's requests for comment.