A businessman claiming to have the sole rights to Ray Charles' merchandise is taking the late soul great's estate to court, claiming a breach of contract.

RICHARD RICKS claims he had a seven-year endorsement deal with Charles and his son RAY JR at the time of the singer's death in June (04).

Ricks insists the contract gave him rights to all Charles merchandise, including calendars, dolls, wine and a potential spectacle deal, but now the contract has been swept aside by the soul star's estate.

In his lawsuit, Ricks claims the defendants made secret deals behind his back with other companies.

At a court hearing in Los Angeles yesterday (01NOV04) attorney RANDALL LEFF, who represents RAY CHARLES ENTERPRISES, insisted that Ricks' contract is null and void.

He told American legal show CELEBRITY JUSTICE, "That so-called contract was improperly obtained. We believe it is not enforceable."

02/11/2004 21:12