Paramount Pictures was hit with a lawsuit Monday over the blockbuster hit, "Top Gun: Maverick."
The widow and son of Ehud Yonay, who wrote a 1983 article in California Magazine titled, "Top Guns," about fighter pilots and the Navy's elite Top Gun program, is suing the studio in California federal court and claiming copyright infringement. The lawsuit claims the original film credited the story but that the studio did not have the right to make this year's blockbuster, which they say is a derivative work of the original article.
"The iconic 1986 film all started with Paramount securing exclusive motion picture rights to Ehud Yonay's copyrighted story immediately after its publication," according to the lawsuit filed by Shosh Yonay, his widow, and Yuval Yonay, his son. "In fact, the author's story was duly credited on the derivative 1986 film, which is widely known to have been based on the story."
The family also alleges that Paramount "deliberately" ignored their letter sent to recover copyright of the story through a copyright termination notice for Ehud's initial article, "thumbing its nose at the statute."
According to the lawsuit, Paramount acquired the copyright to Yonay’s story after it was published in 1983. In 2018, the Yonays allege they sent Paramount a notice that the copyright was terminated with an effective date of Jan. 24, 2020. They claim Paramount did not get a license to make the sequel.
The Yonays claim the film was completed after the effective termination date of Jan. 24, 2020.
"Despite the 2022 sequel clearly having derived from the story, Paramount consciously failed to secure a new license of film and ancillary rights in the copyrighted story following the Yonays' recovery of their U.S. copyright on January 24, 2020," the lawsuit states.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount has insisted the sequel was sufficiently completed before that date.
"These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously," Paramount said in a statement, which was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
"Top Gun: Maverick," which stars Tom Cruise and Miles Teller, has grossed more than $500 million since it was released over Memorial Day. The Yonays are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and unspecified damages.