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Universal, MGM Settle James Bond Copyright Case

MGM is dropping its lawsuit against Universal, endings its claim that U’s plans for a spy project called “Section 6” is a ripoff of the James Bond franchise.

Attorneys for the studios, as well as for the “Section 6” screenwriter Aaron Berg, filed a stipulation for dismissal in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. But the dismissal is without prejudice — meaning that similar claims could be filed again.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed, but the attorneys issued a statement that read, “The parties have resolved the matter to their satisfaction.” Robert Schwartz, attorney at O’Melveny & Myers, represented MGM and the longtime Bond producing entity, Danjaq. Aaron Moss and Bert Fields of Greenberg Glusker, represented Universal.

The “Section 6” project is moving forward, but there has been speculation that the settlement includes a detailed road map of what can and cannot be used in the movie, so as to not infringe on the Bond franchise.

MGM claimed that “Section 6,” focusing on the formation of MI6 after World War I, stole from their highly lucrative Bond franchise. Universal, however, called the lawsuit premature, given that Universal had yet to greenlight its project. The studio in court filings even claimed that MGM’s action was an effort to scare away would-be competitors and to gain “a monopoly on the British spy genre.”

But U.S. District Judge James Otero in September refused to dismiss MGM’s lawsuit, writing that the the similarities are “sufficient to give rise to a claim for copyright infringement.” Although parts of his order were redacted, he cited some of the screenplay’s dialogue, specifically the way that the lead “Section 6” character Alec Duncan introduces himself: “Duncan. Alec Duncan.” — which is obviously very similar to the iconic line “Bond. James Bond.”

Berg was represented by David Aronoff of Lathrop & Gage in the litigation.

 

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