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Judge Refuses to Dismiss MGM’s James Bond Case Against Universal

A federal judge has refused to dismiss MGM’s lawsuit against Universal, claiming that their in-the-works project “Section 6” infringes on the lucrative James Bond franchise.

U.S. District Judge James Otero refused to toss the suit, but otherwise did not reveal the rationale behind his decision as documents were sealed in a court filing on Wednesday.

MGM and Danjaq, the longtime producer of the Bond franchise, filed suit in April against U and Aaron Berg, the screenwriter who wrote the “Section 6” script.

Bobby Schwartz of O’Melveny & Myers, representing MGM, said in a statement, “MGM and Danjaq are pleased that the Court rejected Universal’s and Berg’s assertion that their Section 6 screenplay is not substantially similar to the James Bond works.  We will continue to take all steps necessary to protect our rights in the James Bond property.”

MGM and Danjaq’s copyright infringement lawsuit claims that the “Section 6” script,  set around the formation of MI6 after World War I, is a knockoff of the 007 franchise. Universal slammed the litigation as premature, saying that the script is being reworked and that the movie may never be made.

“If Universal ever decides to make the movie, and Plaintiffs claim that even the revised screenplay infringes, there would be something to argue about, and the case can then be filed,” Universal said in a filing in July.

Berg, meanwhile, is arguing that the characters, plot, settings and other elements of his screenplay are not “substantially similar” to the modern world James Bond elements that would be protected by copyright.

Universal is represented by Bert Fields and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker. Berg is represented by David Aronoff and Amber Henry of Lathrop & Gage.

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