Paramount Pictures Sued Over “Top Gun: Maverick” Copyright Infringement

Paramount Pictures was sued on Monday, June 6, 2022, in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, over the blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Ehud Yonay wrote “Top Guns,” an article appearing in the May 1983 edition of “California” magazine. The article follows F-14 pilots and radio intercept officers enrolled in the Navy Fighter Weapons School, aka Top Gun, in San Diego, California. Paramount secured exclusive motion picture rights to the story in “Top Guns” and released the 1986 movie “Top Gun,” directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. The movie grossed $356 million. “Top Guns” was credited in the 1986 movie.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the heirs of Ehud Yonay. In 2018, the Yonays sent Paramount a statutory notice of termination, thus recovering the copyright to the article. The termination notice was filed with the U.S. Copyright Office on January 24, 2020. The lawsuit alleges that Paramount failed to re-acquire the film and ancillary rights to the article before releasing the movie “Top Gun: Maverick” in 2022, the sequel to the 1986 movie. Because the studio did not secure a new license from the Yonays, the complaint alleges that “Paramount’s exploitation of the 2022 Sequel in the United States constitutes ongoing intentional infringement of the Yonays’ copyright.”

The complaint seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory and consequential damages, an accounting and restitution of gains, profits, and advantages, and, alternatively, statutory damages. The lawyers representing plaintiffs are Marc Toberoff, Jaymie Parkkinen, and former 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski. “Top Gun: Maverick” has grossed $569.6 million worldwide and is the fourth highest-grossing movie of the year.

Additional Reading

Paramount accused of copyright infringement over ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, The Hill (June 6, 2022)

Shosh Yonay et al v. Paramount Pictures Corporation et al (Case No. 2:2022cv03846)

Complaint in Shosh Yonay et al v. Paramount Pictures Corporation et al

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