(CN) – In a federal complaint that combines the sublime and the ridiculous, Aram Saroyan, the son of acclaimed author William Saroyan, sued Stanford University and a music publisher over rights to the song, “Come On-a My House.” Aram Saroyan, who also is a respected author, says his father wrote the song in the 1940s with his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian, “whose fame reached its pinnacle with his creation of ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks.'”
Ross Bagdasarian Jr. also is named as a defendant, as are Sony/ATV Music Publishing and ASCAP.
Aram Saroyan claims he owns half of the song copyright “by virtue of his lawful termination of an earlier transfer of a grant from W. Saroyan to R. Bagdasarian.” He says Bagdasarian’s heirs, Ross Jr., Carol and Adam Bagdasarian, own the other half of the copyright.
Stanford claims ownership “by virtue of W. Saroyan’s testamentary grant in 1981 to the William Saroyan Foundation,” which transferred “all copyrights held by the Saroyan Foundation to Stanford.”
But Aram Saroyan claims that the 1981 grant “could not include any interest in The Song to Stanford since W. Saroyan did not possess any interest in the Song as his death.”
He claims that Sony and his cousins continue to collect royalties in the song, and that half of the money belongs to him.
Aram Saroyan is his father’s sole surviving heir, according to the complaint in Los Angeles Federal Court.
The complaint does not state how much money the song has earned, but Saroyan claims that Sony “would have provide an advance of $250,000” to him had Stanford not interfered.
He seeks an accounting, constructive trust, and damages for unjust enrichment. He is represented by Kenneth Freundlich of Encino.