Los Angeles, CA – Copyright infringement and breach of contract lawsuit was filed by Fox against Warner Bros over “The Watchmen” motion picture that is currently under production. Fox alleges that it has “exclusive copyright and contract rights in the motion picture property entitled ‘The Watchmen,’ including Fox’s exclusive rights to produce and develop the picture and to distribute the work throughout the world.” Fox acquired all motion picture rights to The Watchmen, between 1986 to 1990, through a series of contracts with the author of the comic book or graphic novel, and subsequent screenplays by authors Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm. Certificates of Registration for the Copyrighted work were received from the U.S. Copyright Office. The case is titled Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., CV08-889DDP (C.D. California).
In 1991, Fox entered into an agreement with Largo International, whereby Fox quitclaimed certain of its rights in The Watchmen, but “expressly preserved, reserved and/or granted to Fox various rights, including exclusive rights to distribute the first motion picture based on The Watchmen.” Producer Lawrence Gordon was a joint venturer in Largo, and when he withdrew in 1993, Largo assigned, transferred and conveyed to Golar all of its rights in The Watchmen. In 1994, Fox and Gordon entered another agreement which required Fox to be paid a buy-out amount if The Watchmen movie was produced, in addition for profit participation of 2.5 percent of 100 percent of net profits on each motion picture, remake or sequel.
Fox’s lawsuit alleges that neither Gordon nor Warner Bros has paid Fox the buy-out amount, nor advised Fox of additional terms required under the contract. Fox also alleges that it had a separate agreement with Warner Bros regarding The Watchmen motion picture, which is also being breached, and that Warner Bros is fully aware that it does not have clear title to the work. Warner Bros is denying that Fox has any rights in The Watchmen project and refused to cease development of the motion picture. The complaint sets for the following five causes of action: (a) Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq., (b) tortious interference with contract, (c) breach of contract, (d) accounting, and (e) declaratory relief.