In a move that comes as about as much as a surprise as James Bond liking his martini shaken not stirred, Universal today responded to the multi-claim Section 6 lawsuit from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq with a request that the federal court throw out the “threadbare allegations about hypothetical future infringement in works yet to be produced.” In fact, Universal accuses MGM and Danjaq of using the possibility of their Aaron Berg-written WWI-themed pic about the formation of the UK’s MI6 as a pretense for larger aims. “In an effort to claim an unfounded monopoly on the British spy genre, and to scare away Universal and any other would-be competitors to James Bond, Plaintiffs rushed to file this needless action,” notes today’s filing (read it here). Berg himself has also filed a heavily redacted motion for dismissal (read it here) for his “undeniably original creative work.” This latest move from entertainment legal mastermind Bert Fields and Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP partner Aaron Moss requests a June 30 hearing on the motion for Universal Studios and NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Represented by David Aronoff and Amber Henry of LA firm Lathrop & Gage LLP, scribe Berg is seeking the same date for a hearing on his motion too.
“Universal moves to dismiss on the ground that the Complaint states no claims upon which relief may be granted against Universal,” says the 19-page filing from Universal. “Universal is not liable for direct infringement, nor on any secondary liability theory, because the Complaint contains no factual allegations that Universal wrote or otherwise assisted, induced or contributed in any way to the Screenplay.”
In their initial April 3 complaint, MGM and Bond producer Danjaq called the Berg-scripted project a “James Bond knockoff.” 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 from the rival studio and Berg, who is also named as defendant. Universal claimed in a filing on April 11 that even while director Joe Cornish was brought on board back in March, the pic wasn’t actually a formal go yet. They said Section 6 was in the very very early stages of development and would not not infringe on the Bond copyright in any way when the script was in its final form.
MGM and Danjaq weren’t buying that, as they made clear in an April 14 response of their own. “Defendants thus admit that they not only have no plans to stop their infringing conduct, but that they are forging ahead—right now,” the plaintiffs said. Now Judge Dean D. Pregerson will decide late next month if this case lives or dies another day…or something Bondy like that.
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.