Paramount Pictures recently sued a pair of crowdfunded producers who are attempting to release the first independent Star Trek film. The project, which reportedly has the backing of former Star Trek actor George Takei, secured more than $1 million of funding from backers on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Paramount Pictures spent tens of millions of dollars creating a new series of Star Trekmovies, using legendary producer J.J. Abrams and an A-list cast.
Paramount Pictures sees the independent project as a violation of its intellectual property rights, and rightfully so. According to Paramount Pictures, the independent project uses copyrighted elements of Star Trek, such as characters and species.
Screenwriters and producers for the new Star Trek films are taking one of the most beloved sci-fi series ever created and turning it into a series of movies. It is understandable why Paramount Pictures would feel its intellectual property rights are threatened.
Although other fan-made Star Trek films have been created since the inception of the series, most have evaded legal troubles. In this case, the developers are touting their film as a truly “independent” Star Trek movie, which could eat into the profits of the films created by Paramount Pictures.
What We Can Learn from Hollywood Intellectual Property Lawsuits
For movies that have been filmed or are currently in development, costs often exceed tens of millions of dollars. Development in the movie business extends beyond filming, and includes marketing, organizing celebrity appearances, writing and world building.
When third parties attempt to emulate existing movies, the money, time and efforts of Hollywood producers are threatened. Movies are intellectual property assets that can potentially be worth billions of dollars, as we have seen with ticket sales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Business litigation attorneys understand this is a high stakes business with large risks. Don’t sit idly by and allow a third party to piggyback off of your hard work. There are times when it is completely reasonable to take the gloves off and hire an attorney.