American Battleship LawsuitUniversal Studios says Global Asylum stole their Battleship, but today the mockbuster producers claimed the studio’s copyright lawsuit over American Battleship is just a scapegoat smokescreen – but they “appreciate the publicity.”

“The Global Asylum has promoted the feature film American Battleship for nearly a year while Universal raised no concerns,” said Global Asylum today. “The timing of Universal’s recently filed lawsuit coincides with mixed reviews of its big-budget film, Battleship — the first movie based on a board game since Clue. Looking for a scapegoat, or more publicity, for its pending box-office disaster, the executives at Universal filed this lawsuit in fear of a repeat of the box office flop, John Carter of Mars. The Universal action is wholly without merit and we will vigorously defend their claims in Court. Nonetheless, we appreciate the publicity.”

Universal’s 54-page copyright infringement and false advertising suit (read it here) filed April 20 comes just weeks before the studio’s $100 million blockbuster Battleship hits North American theaters on May 18. The movie has already proved a big hit overseas since opening earlier this month. “This action,” the suit says, “arises out of Global Asylum’s knowing and willful violation of Universal’s rights with respect to Universal’s highly anticipated motion picture Battleship, and Global Asylum’s blatant infringement and unfair completion in advertising and promotion for sale, in the United states and in Europe, a straight-to-DVD knock-off that features substantially similar artwork, packaging, release dates, and film trailers as Universal’s motion picture.” According to Amazon and other online retailers, American Battleship is scheduled to be released May 22.

Battleship LawsuitUniversal wants the court to stop all stateside distribution of American Battleship with an injunction and all American Battleship DVDs, posters, trailers and everything else seemingly related to the movie destroyed. The studio also seeks compensatory damages that could range into the millions. The studio, which says it has spent over $30 million promoting Battleship, licenses Battleship from gamemaker Hasbro based on their “well-known naval combat board game of the same name.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, follows on the heels of a UK court injunction that Universal successfully sough to halt Global Asylum’s American Battleship distributors on that side of the Atlantic. ”

American Battleship is nothing new for Global Asylum. For years the straight-to-DVD company has been the producers of such titles as Paranormal Entity, Titanic II, 2012: Ice Age and 2011’s Battle Of Los Angeles — which was not Columbia’s Battle: Los Angeles, though both did involve fighting off alien invasions. The mockbuster makers recently signed a one-year, 10-title first-look agreement with Staz/Anchor Bay Entertainment UK.

Universal had no comment on the lawsuit. The studio is represented by Andrew J. Thomas of downtown LA’s Jenner & Block LLP