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A copyright lawsuit concerning Top Gun: Maverick from the heirs to Ehud Yonay, the author of the original Top Gun, will go to court. Paramount is accused of “illegally shutting them out of the sequel.” U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found, “Defendant’s primary argument in its Motion to Dismiss is that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently pled in their [complaint] that the Article and the Sequel are ‘substantially similar,'” reads the order. “The Court disagrees.”

Anderson sided with the Yonays in advancing copyright infringement and breach of contract declaratory relief claims. “Here, the Court finds that there are enough alleged similarities between the Article and the Sequel for reasonable minds to differ on the issue of substantial similarity, including the filtering out of unprotected elements,” the order reads.

Paramount acquired the film rights in 1983 and the heirs to the author, Shosh and Yuval Yonay, argued that “they reclaimed their rights to the article under a provision in copyright law that allows authors to terminate licenses after waiting a period, typically 35 years. They said that the rights to the story reverted to them in January 2020 after sending Paramount a notice of termination. However, the studio deliberately ignored this, thumbing its nose at the statute.”

Paramount has maintained that the sequel was “sufficiently completed” before the termination date. In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, it also stressed that the story at issue is a nonfiction piece that shares no similarity with the “narrative action movie about a fictional veteran pilot.” 

“This is a case in which discovery could shed light on [the] issues that actually matter to the outcome,” reads the order. “In particular, expert testimony would aid the court in objectively evaluating similarities in cinematic techniques … determining the extent and qualitative importance of similar elements between the works, and comparing works in the different mediums of film and television.”


– Excerpt from an article for Variety by Gene Maddus. Read the full article here.


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