Star Trek Fan Film Axanar Lawyers Tell Court About JJ Abrams Claims Of Paramount Dropping Suit, Express Confusion
from the well,-this-is-awkward dept
Of course, between now and "within a few weeks," the case is still going on... and the folks behind the fan film, called Axanar, had to file their reply to the amended complaint. And they have. And, as per usual with these things, it goes through and rebuts various claims and then tosses in a bunch of counterclaims. Normally we'd go through and analyze the more interesting/important claims, but given that there's still a pretty good chance the whole case is going away shortly, we'll skip all that and jump to the part where Axanar's lawyers point to the JJ Abrams/Justin Lin statements and basically throw their hands in the air and say "we don't know what to do about this." After highlighting both of their comments, as well as the quote from Paramount "confirming" the settlement talks, the filing notes:
Nevertheless, despite these public comments, the present action remains pending, and Defendants are currently left with uncertainty as to how Axanar may proceed with its film to fulfill the wishes of thousands of fans who have contributed.Given that pretty much everyone has admitted that there are settlement talks that are far along, it seems like the court should put the case on hold to see how those pan out. It's fairly common to see courts give parties extra time to settle such disputes out of court, and here's a case where that extra time clearly makes a lot of sense.
It still seems likely that the case will settle soon. I've seen some (fairly ignorant) commentary online arguing that because Axanar has filed counterclaims, the case must now move forward, but that's wrong. People are confusing the fact that the parties can settle the case outside of court with the issue of whether or not Paramount can just drop the case. From the statements everyone made, it's quite clear that they were discussing settlements, not Paramount universally backing away. A Star Trek "rumors" site claims that people at CBS are upset about the counterclaims and may continue the case even if Paramount settles (remember, Paramount and CBS co-own the various Star Trek IP). That report also claims that the two companies want the settlement to include the Axanar project being shut down -- which would seem to contradict the claims from Abrams.
While anything is possible, and the revealing of the settlement before it was actually agreed to could make things a bit messier, I find the claims about this difficult to believe. Axanar had to file its response because the case is still going and it was due. And they filed a strong response with counterclaims, because they have to do that, in case the settlement talks do fall apart for whatever reason. They can't go back to the judge and say "Hey, we filed a weak response because we thought we were all chummy now." That's not how it works. And, of course, the lawyers on the other side know this as well. The idea that the high priced lawyers at Paramount and CBS were somehow offended by this seems like a stretch. I may not agree with their views on copyright law, but I'd doubt they're so thin-skinned that some expected counterclaims will suddenly stop them from wanting to settle. Frankly, all the talk about how the counterclaims have sunk the settlement seem like wishful thinking from a group of folks who just hate the idea of Axanar.