UPDATED, 4:10 PM: The Section 6 lawsuit that sees two studios pitted against each other is starting to move faster than the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. Just three days after Universal responded to the multi-claim complaint from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq, the plaintiff today fired back with a response to the response. “Defendants thus admit that they not only have no plans to stop their infringing conduct, but that they are forging ahead—right now,” says today’s 4-page filing in federal court (read it here). “Even worse, as Universal knows from public reports, plaintiffs are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the next James Bond motion picture, slated for theatrical release in October 2015 and home video release in early 2016,” the filing adds. On April 3, MGM and Danjaq hit Universal with a complaint for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced Aaron Berg-written World War I spy drama. The plaintiffs charged that Section 6 was a rip-off of the James Bond properties, which they own. On April 11, Universal claimed in a filed of its own that the film was not even greenlighted and was still in the very early stages of development and did not infringe on the Bond copyright at all when the script was in its final form. “In essence, Universal’s response is to claim: ‘Just trust us, we’re trying to fix it. But it will take time.,'” the filing says. “That is no basis for Universal to avoid the targeted discovery plaintiffs seek. Without that expedited discovery, any attempt by plaintiffs to obtain preliminary relief would be tantamount to shooting at a moving target. The Court cannot possibly ascertain the status quo under such circumstances, let alone fashion appropriate relief to address it.” Judge Dean D. Pregerson will have to weigh in on this soon, but it sounds like both studios can use an M to separate them in this you said/I said schoolyard brawl.
PREVIOUSLY, 10:39 AM: Looks like Universal have brought their own legal license to kill on board in the Section 6 lawsuit with MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq — in more ways than one. Just over a week after being hit by a multi-claim copyright infringement suit by the duo, the studio has responded and they’ve brought a top operative in Bert Fields to handle things for them.
In a filing on April 11 for Universal (read it here), the Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP attorney and colleague Aaron Moss not only want to shut down the plaintiffs’ desire for a quick discovery process, but their very premise. “The picture in question has not been ‘green lit,’ i.e., no decision has yet been made whether actually to produce it,” says Universal of the Aaron Berg-written pic that Joe Cornish was recently brought on board to helm. “Indeed, any ‘green light’ decision is many months away,” adds the 9-page filing in federal court. “There is no need whatsoever for expedited discovery and certainly no need for an emergency ex parte order on that subject,” it also says.
MGM and Danjaq called the WW1-set pic about the founding of MI6 a “James Bond knockoff” in their initial April 3 complaint. They also claimed they have repeatedly been refused a look at the script by Universal which is partly why they want the project shut down. They’re also seeking unspecified damages. That’s not quite how the Comcast-owned studio see it, though they feel no need to show any script to their rival. On November 26, 2013, Universal responded that if it ultimately proceeds with the Section 6 project, the script would undergo substantial revisions,” says Universal’s response to the April 3 lawsuit. “Universal further assured MGM’s counsel that Universal had no intention of infringing MGM’s intellectual property rights, and that MGM’s claims were, therefore, premature and misplaced.” In a March 31 correspondence, Universal claims to have made its intentions clear as day. “Universal also reiterated that it has no intention of violating MGM’s intellectual property rights,” says the April 11 filing.
Now it is up to Judge Dean D. Pregerson to decide how fast this complaint is going to proceed and who is really making what.
Robert Schwartz, Cassandra Seto, and Brian Finkelstein of LA’s O’Melveny & Myers are representing the plaintiffs as is Marc Becker of LA firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.