EXCLUSIVE: It looks like everyone is shaken but not too stirred after all. Today, MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq filed for a dismissal of their copyright infringement lawsuit against Universal over the latter’s Section 6 project (read the filing here). The legal action against screenwriter Aaron Berg over the World War 1 spy project is also “dismissed without prejudice,” said the paperwork submitted in federal court Wednesday. With the discovery process just ended, the case was set to go to trial on February 16, 2016.
“The Parties have resolved the matter to their satisfaction,”Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP told me today. Moss, Bert Fields, and Daniel Stone of the heavyweight firm represented Universal and Berg in the action. At least for now, this brings an end to a potential legal saga that started back in April last year.
In the original complaint, MGM and Danjag accused Universal of putting together a “James Bond knockoff” with Section 6. The pic, which had Joe Cornish attached to direct, deals with the origin of UK intelligence agency MI6 – that’s the same organization a certain 007 works for. “This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain,” the April 3 complaint read. “Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not.”
Citing the project as one in early development that would be greatly altered in any final form, Universal’s attempt to have the matter dismissed was rejected by federal Judge James Otero in September. In October, the studio took another tactic and accused the plaintiffs of being intent “on scaring away Universal and any other would-be competitors, thereby gaining a monopoly on the British spy genre.”
Robert Schwartz and other lawyers from LA firm O’Melveny & Myers repped the plaintiffs in this case as did Marc Becker of LA firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.