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Paramount sues over ‘Godfather’

Claims Puzo heirs don't have right to OK new novels

Paramount Pictures has sued the estate of “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo, claiming that Puzo’s heirs gave the greenlight to a new novel even though the studio has long held the rights to such sequels.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Par said that the Puzo estate published “The Godfather’s Revenge” in 2006 and intends to publish “The Family Corleone” without its permission. The studio claims that the publication “tarnished” the brand and “misled consumers” as to the connection to the original Puzo works.

“The 1969 agreements between Paramount and Puzo reserved to Paramount all rights in ‘The Godfather’ novel except the publication rights in that original novel,” the studio said in its suit. “Puzo did not reserve any rights to publish a sequel to ‘The Godfather.’ Thus, after execution of the 1969 agreements, Puzo retained no rights of any kind in the ‘Godfather’ novel except for the right to publish that original novel in book form.”

In addition to copyright infringement, Par claims trademark infringement in the publication of “The Godfather’s Revenge.” The suit was filed against the author’s son, Anthony Puzo, who is executor of the estate.

Bert Fields, attorney for the Puzo estate, could not immediately be reached.

Paramount and the Puzo estate did enter into an agreement in 2002 for publication of one sequel novel, “The Godfather Returns,” released in 2004. But it was also made clear in that agreement that the estate believed it had the right to publish further sequels without the studio’s permission while Par held that the heirs did not.

Puzo died in 1999.