Jerry Seinfeld must be feeling pretty buzzed this morning over a now-dead lawsuit about who came up with the idea for his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“Defendants argue that Plaintiffs copyright claims are time-barred,” U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said Monday in an opinion and order in director Christian Charles’ copyright infringement action against the motoring funnyman. “The Court agrees,” the federal judge added, ending the dispute for good (read the order here).
Copyright civil cases have a three-year window within the statute for a suit to be brought forth with any chance of success once the official clock of notification or an issue of disagreement begins ticking.
Although he communicated with Seinfeld in 2017 around the time the series inked a deal with Netflix and moved to the streamer from Crackle, Charles did not first take the Comedians in Cars matter to court until early 2018 – about three years too late it seems.
“Because Charles was on notice that his ownership claim had been repudiated since at least 2012, his infringement claim is time-barred,” Nathan further explained in her nine-page ruling dismissing the matter from the longtime Seinfeld collaborator of sorts. “His joint authorship claim is also time-barred for the same reasons.”
“And his request for an injunction fails, because it was premised on Charles’ assertion that he is the sole owner. Because Charles has had multiple opportunities to amend his complaint in the face of Defendants’ timeliness arguments and has not made any further amendment requests, these claims are dismissed with prejudice.”
“Today’s victory is a complete vindication,” Seinfeld attorney Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn Crutcher asserted in a statement following today’s order. “Jerry created Comedians in Cars and this lawsuit was nothing but a money-grab seeking to capitalize on the success of the show. We are pleased that the Court saw through the noise and dismissed the case.”
As well as helming the pilot for Comedians in Cars, Charles directed a number of those AMEX commercials featuring Seinfeld in the 1990s as well as the comic’s 2002 road movie documentary Comedian. Having debuted its 11th season, its second on Netflix, on July 19, Comedians in Cars has hauled in a number of PGA Awards and been nominated four times for Primetime Emmy Awards, including this year.
Today’s legal victory comes less than two weeks after Netflix paid out a reported $500 million for global streaming rights to Seinfeld starting in 2021. Currently on Hulu, episodes of the iconic sitcom that ran from 1989-1998 on NBC will also be on Viacom-owned cable stations in syndication as of October 2021.
Yada, yada, yada.
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