Appeals Court Rejects Claim Against Paramount Over Ownership of ‘Rules of Engagement’

A federal appeals court has rejected Seven Arts Filmed Entertainment’s latest claim of ownership of several movies, including “Rules of Engagement,” “An American Rhapsody” and “Who Is Cletis Tout?”

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Seven Arts’ copyright infringement claim against Paramount was barred by the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations.

Seven Arts sued Paramount in 2011, along with Content Media Corp., claiming that it was the owner to the copyrights to the movies and that Paramount had improperly paid royalties to Content Media. Seven Arts later dismissed Content Media from the case after it decided to pursue a claim against the company in the High Court of England and Wales.

Seven Arts, led by Peter Hoffman, claimed that it had a viable case against Paramount because of a Canadian court ruling it won in 2011, claiming that the judgment there established its ownership rights. But a federal district court in 2011 found that Seven Arts filed its claim against Paramount too late, in a the dispute that stretches back to 2003. The 9th Circuit panel said that an “untimely” claim of ownership also bars a claim for copyright infringement. “Paramount plainly and expressly repudiated Seven Art’s copyright ownership more than three years before Seven Arts brought this suit,” the appellate panel said.

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