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Maverick’ Copyright Lawsuit Against Paramount Dismissed

The nearly two-year old dogfight between Paramount and the family of the writer of the 1983 article that inspired the franchise is over.

In an order released late on April 5,  U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson grounded the copyright infringement, breach of contract, and declaratory relief action by the Israeli-based widow and son of Ehud Yonay

“Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay’s (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) claims for breach of contract, declaratory relief, and copyright infringement,” he wrote in a the one-page judgement. “Plaintiffs shall take nothing and Defendant shall have its costs of suit.”

“Plaintiffs contend that the Article and Sequel (collectively, “the Works”) are substantially similar because they have similar plots, sequences of events, pacing, themes, moods, dialogue, characters, and settings,” the judge said in a separate 14-page minutes in chambers document also made public last Friday. “Defendant contends that the similarities identified by Plaintiffs are either not similarities at all, or are similarities based on unprotected elements of the Works. The Court concludes that the Article and Sequel are not substantially similar under the extrinsic test.”

With Tom Cruise and Maverick EPs Jerry Bruckheimer and David Ellison undoubtedly pleased, Paramount today told Deadline: “We are pleased that the court recognized that plaintiffs’ claims were completely without merit.”

First filed in June 2022, the case has been through almost as many twists and turns as a F-14 in combat.

The complaint claims that $1.5 billion box office hit sequel violated termination rights. The Ehud Yonay penned “Top Guns” from California magazine’s May 1983 edition, about the pilots and program “located in a second-floor cubby of offices at the east end of Hangar One at Miramar” saw its author credited in the iconic 1986 film.

Even so, last June, the judge set a trial date of May 7, 2024. While Judge Anderson had denied Paramount’s initial motion to dismiss back in November 2022, in the fall of 2023 he took in new summary judgement filings from both the Yonay family (November 6, 2023) and the perhaps soon to be Skydance purchased Paramount a few weeks later (November 22, 2023). With a beat for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the court announced on December 26 that it was taking the pending Motions under submission.

The judgement last week came with no oral argument before the court from Paramount’s outside counsel Daniel Petrocelli and his O’Melveny & Myers associates nor the Yonay’s attorneys Marc Toberoff and Alex Kozinski. Toberoff did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on the judge’s order in a timely fashion today. If and when the lawyer does, this post will be updated.

The decision certainly eases the stress surrounding one of its biggest stars and biggest pieces of IP for Paramount in a delicate time for the studio.

Ellison’s Skydance Media is currently in an exclusive negotiating window with Shari Redstone’s National Amusements, which controls the voting shares of Paramount Global. The transaction is seen as a step toward a more complete combination of Skydance and Paramount, though the exact shape of the newly configured entity remains under discussion. One sticking point is the fact that while National Amusements owns more than three-quarters of Paramount’s voting shares, it only has about 10% of the company’s total equity, so other prominent shareholders are concerned about getting diluted.

Dade Hayes contributed to this report

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