Paramount Says 'Star Trek' Fan Film Lawsuit Lives On

In the lawsuit over "Axanar," the studio acknowleges statements about a settlement, but tells a judge that claims remain pending.
NBC/Photofest

Despite the fact that Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin has urged Paramount Pictures to drop a lawsuit over a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film, and notwithstanding comments from executive producer J.J. Abrams that an announcement would be coming about an end to the litigation, the parties involved in the fight over Axanar  continue to lob court filings at each other.

The latest comes on Wednesday when plaintiffs Paramount and CBS told a California federal judge that their action remains pending.

The two studios filed a copyright infringement lawsuit at the very end of 2015, and over objections that the Star Trek rights-owners couldn't really copyright elements like the Klingon language or the pointy Vulcan ears, a judge rejected a motion to dismiss. The legal dispute over a project hyped as a would-be studio-quality film that's set before Captain James. T. Kirk's voyage on the U.S.S. Enterprise has commanded attention in large part because the studios have either tolerated or encouraged fan-made works through the years.

In mid-May, during a promotional event for Star Trek Beyond, Abrams raised the hopes of many by hinting the lawsuit would be over soon.

"Within the next few weeks it will be announced this is going away and fans will be able to work on their projects," he said.

So far, that hasn't turned out to be the case.

Given that the judge had rejected a motion to dismiss, defendant Axanar Productions had a deadline to file an answer to the claims. On May 23, it did so and also filed a counterclaim seeking declaratory relief that its works are non-infringing. However, in an unusual stroke, Axanar also explicitly mentioned Abrams' comments as well as a tweeted statement from Paramount and CBS confirming settlement discussions and indicating work on a set of fan-film guidelines.

Now, instead of asking for an extension, Paramount and CBS have filed their own answer to the counterclaim admitting public statements, saying such statements speak for themselves, but otherwise acting as though the lawsuit is moving forward. The plaintiffs, for example, deny that the works in controversy represent a fair use of their copyrights.

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