Universal says that it has yet to greenlight “Section 6,” the project that is the target of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed earlier this month by MGM and “James Bond ” producer Danjaq Prods., and that it may be many months before it decides to proceed with the project.
MGM and Danjaq filed a federal suit claiming that the screenplay for the project, from Aaron Berg, is a knockoff of the highly lucrative franchise.
After MGM and Danjaq sought an expedited discovery schedule, Universal opposed such a motion, arguing that they are still in the early stages of development.
“Universal bought a screenplay that MGM claims violated its copyright on the James Bond films,” Universal said in a brief filed on Friday. “Universal expressly advised MGM that it substantially changing that screenplay to remove any material that might arguably be infringing. That process is ongoing and a revised script will not be finished for several months.”
After reports last month that U had hired a director, lead actor and four producers for the project, MGM fired off a letter to U asking for the most recent version of the script. But Universal said that the request was “premature” because the project was in the early stages of development. Nevertheless, even though Universal says it assured MGM that they had no intention of violating the James Bond intellectual property, MGM and Danjaq still filed the complaint.
Universal is represented by Bert Fields and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker, and MGM and Danjaq are repped by Bobby Schwartz, Cassandra Seto and Brian Finkelstein of O’Melveny & Myers and Marc Becker of Quinn Emanuel.
Update: Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick has denied the expedited discovery. Before he issued that order, however, Danjaq and MGM responded to Universal’s filing, contending that Universal “admits that it has purchased the screenplay, which means that defendant [Aaron ] Berg has earned significant sums for having sold an infringing work.”
“By admitting that it has not revised the screenplay since it received plaintiffs’ November 2013 cease and desist letter, Universal has conceded that it used that unlawful screenplay to lure a director, lead actor and four producers into working on the ‘Section 6’ project. Plaintiffs need to discover what other commercial uses of this infringing screenplay Universal is continuing to make,” MGM and Danjaq said.
They also question whether Universal is preparing to release the movie in the same time frame as the next Bond movie, slated for release in october, 2015, in an effort to “ride on the coattails of plaintiffs’ investment.” And it questions U’s claim that the project is a “mere spec script.”
They add, “In essence, Universal’s response is to claim: ‘Just trust us, we’re trying to fix it. But it will take time.'”