Saturday, April 30, 2016

Captain Kirk v. Iqbal

Star Date 93795.09 (thanks to star date calculator here): Today, paramount Pictures filed an amended complaint (here) against Axanar Productions in a copyright infringement suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Florida. Paramount charges Axanar with “unauthorized exploitation of Star Trek, one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.” And it would be difficult to deny that allegation since Star Trek has spawned 6 television series and 12 movies with a new movie planned for release this year and a new T.V. series planned for 2017.

To Trekkies, the most important aspect of the Amended Complaint is the Star Trek photographs and trivia included in the pleading. For example, you may know that the Klingons are a warrior race from the planet Qo’noS and first appeared in a 1967 episode of the original series, but did you know that the Klingons’ planet was not seen until a 1990 episode (Amended Complaint at 11-12, 20)? Or that “Dilithium is a crystalline substance used in warp propulsion systems to regulate the matter/antimatter reactions that provide the energy necessary for faster-than-light speed (Amended Complaint at 29)”? The photographs and factual trivia take up 28 pages of the 48 page amended pleading.

To non-Trekkie lawyers, the importance of the Amended Complaint lies in the fact that it demonstrates (to the extreme) the change from simple “notice” pleading to the factually demanding “plausibility” pleading now required in federal courts by Ashcroft v. Iqbal (here). The case will likely demonstrate another fact of modern day litigation— discovery is unlikely to move at warp speed.


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