2:20pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Producer Aims to Stop 'Dungeons & Dragons' Film Lawsuit
Courtney Solomon's Sweetpea Entertainment is taking a second roll to stop Hasbro's lawsuit over a new Dungeons & Dragons film.
To quickly review, Hasbro filed the lawsuit first upon word that Sweetpea -- producer of a 2000 D&D film -- was working with Warner Bros. on another D&D movie based on Chainmail, a board game from Dungeons & Dragons designer Gary Gygax. In response, Sweetpea brought counterclaims, arguing that it still retained rights from a 1994 deal and that Hasbro couldn't license Universal Pictures to make a D&D film. In August, a judge denied Sweetpea's summary judgment motion, saying it was "premature" to settle the score at an early juncture.
On Friday, Sweetpea submitted its second summary judgment motion.
"To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show that the defendant has used protectable elements of the plaintiff’s copyrighted works in an infringing work," says the defendants' legal papers. "Here, Plaintiffs allege that a script entitled Chainmail infringes copyrights owned by Plaintiffs. Chainmail, however, was not written by Sweetpea, nor did Sweetpea have a hand in developing the script. Chainmail was written without any involvement by Sweetpea."
Sweetpea admits getting involved on Chainmail after being sent the script by a studio -- likely, Warner Bros. -- but says that doesn't amount to making a movie, script, treatment or any other derivative work. "There can be no copyright infringement without copying," says the summary judgment motion.
It's also noted that Sweetpea hasn't actually reached a licensing agreement with Warner Bros on Dungeons & Dragons (even though in past legal papers, the producer contended that it held D&D film rights in "perpetuity").
The defendant, represented by the firm of Glaser Weil, nods to the judge's previous denial of a summary judgment motion, but says the dispute is no longer premature to rule upon. According to the motion, "Discovery has not proved to be fruitful for Plaintiffs. …Having had ample opportunity to discover evidence that might allow them to make a case of copyright or trademark infringement, Plaintiffs have nothing."
Hasbro's response should be coming soon. The toy company has previously asserted that film rights to D&D have reverted back from Sweetpea.