A Fright for Warner Bros.? “Conjuring” Lawsuit

A Fright for Warner Bros.? “Conjuring” Lawsuit

In honor of Halloween, we’re treating you to a post about a $900 million lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, trespass to chattels, conversion, conspiracy and more around the popular horror movie series “The Conjuring. For those who haven’t seen the series, it explores the career of world-famous paranormal investigators and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.

As The Hollywood Reporter reports, author Gerald Brittle published “The Demonologist” about the Warrens in 1980. Brittle’s lawsuit alleges that he had an agreement with the couple that not only gave him exclusive rights to their case files, but also prohibited them from entering into a motion picture deal without his consent — an agreement that Warner Bros. and the New Line affiliate were aware of when they entered into their own deal with the Warrens in the 1990s for a film based on their work and Brittle’s book.

But that wasn’t the only deal the studio and couple struck. In 2011, after Ed’s death in 2006, Warner Bros. and Lorraine Warren struck up another deal for movies, this time “The Conjuring” franchise included four movies.

According to the report, Warner Bros. responded to the lawsuit with a number of items, including whether someone has a monopoly on recounting true-life events and people, the matter of the statute of limitations and the possibility of arbitration.

None of the defense’s arguments convinced U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney Jr. As quoted by The Hollywood Reporter:

“The Court declines the parties’ invitation to wade into the truth or falsity of the Warrens’ paranormal escapades or to parse the resulting similarities between the works at this stage of the case. This type of analysis, which bears on evidence presented and factual determinations, is better suited for summary judgment or trial.”

In a recent blog on a trademark win for John Deere, the Lanham Act was part of the legal strategy. In “The Conjuring” case, states the report, the “judge rejected a Lanham Act claim based on misrepresentations in the advertising of movie.”

Most important, the judge ruled out the possibility of arbitration. The trial will start rolling in April 2018.

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