12:02pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka, Eriq Gardner
MGM Settles James Bond Copyright Lawsuit Over Universal's 'Section 6'
MGM won’t be taking Universal to court over James Bond.
The studio and Bond rightsholder Danjaq have settled their lawsuit over Universal’s spy film Section 6, which they’d claimed was "a James Bond knockoff." In court papers filed on Wednesday, MGM and Danjaq dismissed their copyright infringement suit against the studio and screenwriter Aaron Berg.
The parties have come to an agreement, but MGM and Danjaq are reserving the right to sue again if there's something in the film they don't like.
The plaintiffs sued in April, claiming the project, which centers on the historical origins of the British intelligence agency MI6, is a ripoff of the blockbuster Bond franchise. Their lawsuit, filed by O'Melveny & Myers' Robert Schwartz and Quinn Emanuel's Marc Becker, claims that the project's similarities to the Bond films include “a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by 'His Majesty’s Secret Service,' with a 'license to kill,' and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain.” The project’s other similarities to Bond were unsurprisingly never revealed. Both parties’ documents were heavily redacted to protect the project's details.
Universal, represented by Bert Fields and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker, responded that the action was premature because the screenplay was still under revision. The studio claimed to have advised MGM that all copyrightable Bond material would be excluded from the final draft.
The studio tried to kill the lawsuit, arguing it shouldn’t go forward because Section 6 hadn’t been greenlighted. “Threadbare allegations about hypothetical future infringement in works yet to be produced are simply not actionable," its motion to dismiss read. "It would be a patent waste of resources for the parties and the Court to entertain this action at such a premature stage."
The court disagreed. In September, U.S. District Judge James Otero denied the motion, though the reason isn’t clear because his order is under seal.
Berg submitted his own motion to dismiss in which he claimed there were no substantial similarities between the works. The similarities were only scenes à faire, or broad tropes like the "diabolical madman" common to "almost any bad guy in any action movie," the screenwriter’s filing held.
The film will move forward, with Joe Cornish attached to direct and Unbroken’s Jack O’Connell in the lead role.
Meanwhile, production has begun on the 24th James Bond film, titled Spectre, which will feature Daniel Craig in the iconic role and Skyfall’s Sam Mendes returning to the director’s chair. It’s slated for a Nov. 6, 2015, release.
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