Paramount Seeks to Throw Out ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Copyright Lawsuit

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Paramount filed a motion on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that claims that “Top Gun: Maverick” infringes on the copyright of the 1983 magazine article that was the source material for the original film.

Shosh and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of writer Ehud Yonay, filed the suit in June, arguing that the studio made the sequel without first renewing the rights to the article.

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In the motion to dismiss, Paramount argued that it did not need to obtain the rights, because “Top Gun: Maverick” is a work of fiction that has almost nothing in common with the non-fiction article and that the facts and ideas conveyed in the article cannot be copyrighted.

“(A)ny similarity between these vastly different works derives from the fact that Top Gun is an actual naval training facility,” the studio’s lawyers argue. “Plaintiffs do not have a monopoly over works about Top Gun.”

Paramount did secure the film rights to Yonay’s article for the original “Top Gun,” which was released in 1986. Copyright law allows authors to reclaim their works after 35 years. Yonay died in 2012, but his widow and son filed a notice in 2018 terminating the studio’s copyright to the article.

The lawsuit takes pains to document numerous alleged similarities between the article and the sequel. The complaint also argues that Yonay used “vivid and cinematic” language to enliven what otherwise could have been a mere recitation of facts.

Paramount, in turn, emphasizes the dissimilarities between the two works. The studio’s motion also argues that certain similarities are simply commonplace elements that nobody could claim to own.

“(E)lite fighter pilots loving to fly, and being dedicated to their craft and competitive, are facts described in the article,” the motion states. “Plaintiffs do not have a monopoly over these (unremarkable) facts merely because Yonay once reported on them.”

The Yonays have asked for an injunction that would bar Paramount from profiting from the film, which has grossed $1.4 billion worldwide. Paramount argues that they have no chance of prevailing on their infringement claim, and that the injunction should therefore be denied.

A hearing is set for Sept. 26.

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