A copyright lawsuit against Paramount survived a potential dismissal on Thursday. The lawsuit, which comes from the heirs to the author of a 1983 magazine story that the original Top Gun was based on, accuses Paramount of illegally shutting them out of the 2022 sequel Top Gun: Maverick.
Paramount moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the sequel and the magazine story do not bear enough similarities. U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson refused to dismiss the lawsuit, finding that the plaintiffs pointed to enough similarities between the story and Top Gun: Maverick to survive dismissal.
“Defendant’s primary argument in its Motion to Dismiss is that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently pled in their [complaint] that the Article and the Sequel are ‘substantially similar,’” the order reads. “The Court disagrees.”
The article in question is a 1983 California Magazine story written by Ehud Yonay, who died in 2012. Paramount acquired the film rights for the article immediately after its publication, and the original 1986 film ackowledged in its credits that it was based on the article.
In 2018, Yonay’s widow, Shosh Yonay, and son, Yuval Yonay, exercised their right to terminate the copyright assignment after 35 years. They then filed the copyright case in June of this year, claiming that the studio did not renew the rights to the article. Paramount attempted to dismiss the case by insisting that the studio did not need the rights since the sequel bore little resemblance to the article. Anderson disagreed.
“Here, the Court finds that there are enough alleged similarities between the Article and the Sequel for reasonable minds to differ on the issue of substantial similarity, including the filtering out of unprotected elements,” Anderson wrote.
Top Gun: Maverick, which hit theaters in May, is currently the highest-grossing film of 2022 with $1.5 billion in worldwide box office revenue .
Carson Burton is a freelance news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter at @carsonsburton.