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'Cars' Copyright Lawsuit Dismissed in Win for Disney

UK screenwriter claimed animated films were based on his screenplay, but judge finds works dissimilar.

Cars 2
Walt Disney

A federal judge has dismissed a UK screenwriter's lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co. that alleged the animated films Cars and Cars 2 was copied from his own work.

In March, Jake Mandeville-Anthony sued claiming the Pixar films infringed the copyright on a three-part screenplay titled "Cookie & Co.," about the true-life adventure race-car driver Michael Owen Perkins, who won a 1988 race, and a second work titled "Cars," which included a treatment, sample screenplay, 46 animated car character descriptions, 10 cars character sketches, and a marketing and merchandising plan.

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The works were created about 20 years ago and Mandeville-Anthony says he sent copies to Disney and also met in person with a Lucasfilm executive who later became general manager at Pixar.

But in a short summary judgment issued on Thursday, California federal judge Valerie Baker Fairbank found the works were dissimilar and the claims were barred because the statute of limitations had expired.

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The ruling is the latest evidence of the monumental "substantial similarity" burden facing aggrieved writers who believe their works have been stolen. In recent weeks, copyright theft lawsuits have been thrown out over ABC's Modern Family, Sony's You Don't Mess with the Zohan, and NBC's My Name is Earl, among others.

The attorneys leading Disney's defense were Sanford Litvack and David Singer of Hogan Lovells.

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner