Disney, 'Predator' writers settle copyright dispute over screenplay

REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
  • Two brothers who scripted the prototype to the popular franchise sued Disney to reclaim their copyright
  • Disney argued termination notice was premature

(Reuters) - Disney's 20th Century Studios and the brothers who wrote the screenplay for the original "Predator" movie have agreed to drop their copyright dispute, according to a Wednesday filing in Los Angeles federal court.

The dismissal follows a December notice that the parties had settled their claims over James and John Thomas' attempt to reclaim their share of Disney's rights in their screenplay.

The brothers' attorney Marc Toberoff of Toberoff & Associates said in a Wednesday email that the parties had come to an "amicable resolution."

The Thomas brothers wrote a screenplay called "Hunters" in 1984, which 20th Century Fox bought in 1986 and made into "Predator." The brothers sued the studio in San Francisco last year, alleging it had wrongly rejected their attempt to terminate its rights in the script.

The U.S. Copyright Act allows creators to terminate copyright transfers and reclaim their works after 35 years in some circumstances. The brothers had asked the court to rule that their termination was valid and to block 20th Century from creating new "Predator" works without a license.

20th Century sued the brothers in Los Angeles on the same day, arguing the notice was premature and ineffective. It also said it had invested "substantial" time and money into developing a new installment of the "Predator" franchise.

Disney and its attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Judge George Wu presided.

The case is 20th Century Studios v. Thomas, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:21-cv-03272.

For 20th Century Studios: Daniel Petrocelli of O'Melveny & Myers

For the Thomas brothers: Marc Toberoff of Toberoff & Associates

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com