Writer Claims Makers of “The Purge” Stole His Screenplay

July 22nd, 2014 by

purge-postUsually disputes like this are settled on the day of the annual Purge but not this time around.  A writer is suing the makers of The Purge for copyright infringement claiming that Universal Studios, and others, stole the plot of the movie.

The Purge, starring Ethan Hawke, tells the story of a family trying to survive the annual Purge; a night when all crime, including murder, is legal.  The low budget movie went on to gross more than $64 million in the United States.  Just last Friday, the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, was released and grossed $28.3 million in its opening weekend.  Douglas Jordan-Benel is a screenplay writer who created Settler’s Day in 2011; a story about a family that must withstand the one night a year that killing is legal.  Plaintiff claims that the two screenplays are so similar that it is a “virtual impossibility” that The Purge was independently created.  Among the similarities, plaintiff claims that both scripts feature the protagonist “consuming sweet baked goods,” fathers experiencing heavy traffic of the day of the holiday, and similar action descriptions like “head exploding” versus “bits of brain flying”.

Plaintiff claims that the makers of The Purge got their hands on his script when he shared it with a talent agency that also represents the credited writer of The Purge screenplay. Plaintiff is suing the writer and several movie studios behind the film for copyright infringement.  Plaintiff does not explain why he waited until now to file the lawsuit and does not claim copyright infringement concerning the sequel that was just released.  For his damages, plaintiff seeks to purge the defendants of $5 million.



Posted in Copyrights, Film / Television

Chicago Cubs Sue Look-a-Like Mascot after Bar Fight

July 21st, 2014 by

Apparently it isn’t all hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks over at Wrigley Field.  On Friday, the Chicago Cubs sued a group of individuals sporting a knock-off costume of the official Cubs mascot, Clark the Cub.  The Cubs claim the imitator is infringing and tarnishing the Cubs’ trademark after the faux mascot got into a bar fight and yelled racial epithets at people.

In January 2014, Clark the Cub became the first official mascot in Cubs’ history.  In protest of the mascot, many fans took to the Internet to create some very disturbing Photoshop images of the new mascot but Clark the Cub is now a fixture at Wrigley Field. Defendants wear a similar bear costume sporting the Cubs’ trademarks and pass themselves off as Billy Cub. In the picture below, Clark the Cub is on the left.  A group of about four people don the Billy Cub outfit and lurk outside the gates of Wrigley Field charging people to take photographs.  In exchange for not getting tipped, the Cubs claim that Billy Cub has cursed and used racial slurs at fans.

On April 14, 2014, Billy Cub went into a bar near Wrigley Field and got into a fight with a patron.  You can see this skirmish here.  Fed up with the animal-like antics of the counterfeit bear, the Cubs filed this lawsuit.  The Cubs claim that defendants are infringing, diluting and tarnishing the Cubs’ trademarks by wearing the suit “bearing” such marks.

The Cubs seek the neutering of Billy Cub by requesting damages and a permanent injunction forbidding the defendants from using the Billy Cub name and infringing the Cubs’ trademarks in the future.





Posted in Sports, Trademarks

Design Company Sues to Halt Production of “Candy Land” Movie

July 18th, 2014 by

A design company that claims to have created all of the characters, storyline and artwork for Candy Land is suing Hasbro to halt production of an Adam Sandler movie based upon the iconic board game.  The design company claims that its copyrights are being infringed and Hasbro is not paying royalties.

Candy Landwas designed in 1945 by Eleanor Abbott and was bought by Milton Bradley Company (now owned by Hasbro) and first published in 1949.  The game takes very little thought, and less strategy, as players race to the top of the board based upon colors drawn from a deck of cards. Prior to 1984, the game contained no characters other than a generic boy and girl entering Candy Land.  In 1984, the predecessor to plaintiff, Landmark Entertainment Group, LLC (a company known for designing theme park attractions for Universal Studios and Six Flags) revamped the game to include characters, a storyline and original artwork.  Some of those characters include Lord Licorice and King Kandy and places like Candy Land Castle.   According to the complaint, Landmark retained all copyrights associated with the upgrade and entered into a licensing agreement with Hasbro.

In 2013, Landmark learned that Hasbro was prepping a Candy Landmovie starring Adam Sandler and to be distributed by Columbia Pictures.  Landmark also claims that it learned that Hasbro had produced an animated feature, an electronic hand-held game and a video game without authorization from Landmark and without paying royalties.

The real question in this case for the court to decide is whether Landmark’s additions to the game were made pursuant to a work-for-hire agreement or if this was indeed solely a licensing agreement.  If it was a work-for-hire, Landmark would not retain any ownership of the copyrights associated with the game.  Landmark seeks a declaratory judgment that it is the owner of the copyrights related to its improvements to the game and is suing Hasbro for copyright infringement.  This could be one sticky situation for Hasbro.





Posted in Copyrights, Film / Television, Gaming

Ex-Dictator Noriega Sues “Call of Duty” Makers For Misuse of His Image

July 17th, 2014 by

A deposed dictator has many things to worry about including his lovely image being used without his permission.  Yesterday, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sued Activision for using his likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

In 2012, Activision released another installment of its wildly successful Call of Duty games entitled, Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  In the game, the main villain is aided by Manual Noriega.  The game explicitly uses Noriega’s name and likeness and apparently didn’t seek the dethroned dictator’s permission.  Noriega was the infamous ruler of Panama from 1983 until the time of an American invasion in 1989. In April 1992, a trial was held in Miami, Florida  in which Noriega was tried and convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. After serving time in prison in the United States and France, Noriega was sent back to prison in Panama.

Noriega claims Activision has violated his rights of publicity by using his likeness without permission.  Noriega alleges that the game portrays him as a kidnapper and a murderer.  A similar lawsuit was filed two weeks ago against the makers of Grand Theft Auto V by Lindsay Lohan who claims the game used her image without permission.  You can read about that case here.  Noriega seeks damages and his cut of the immense profits that Call of Duty: Black Ops II generated.






Posted in Copyrights, Gaming, Technology

Production Company Claims Seth MacFarlane Stole “Ted”

July 16th, 2014 by

Production Company, Bengal Mangle Productions is suing Seth MacFarlane and Universal Studios claiming that “Ted” is a copy of their character, Charlie from their film Acting School Academy written in 2008. According to the complaint, “Charlie is a teddy bear living in a human, adult world with all human friends. Charlie has a penchant for drinking, smoking prostitutes, and is a generally vulgar yet humorous character.” Below you can see Charlie on the left and Ted on the right.

Acting School Academy was available on YouTube, Facebook, Funny or Die and others and had over 1 million viewers. A spinoff was created centered on the “Charlie” character called Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear on YouTube, Funny or Die and other sites. The plaintiff has held a copyright since June 18, 2009.

Ted was released on June 29, 2012. The plaintiff is stating that it bears striking resemblance to “Charlie” down to even fake social media accounts created in the characters’ names. The plaintiffs are suing Seth MacFarlane and Universal Studios for copyright infringement, unspecified damages, profits from “Ted” and attorneys’ fees.





Posted in Copyrights, Film / Television, Internet

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