If and when the producers of “Star Trek: Axanar” go to trial is a lot sooner than both sides anticipated, after the judge in the case rejected a schedule agreed to by both sides, and moved up a court date.
CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures will officially begin presenting its copyright infringement case to a California federal court jury Jan. 31, according to an order filed Tuesday by Judge R. Gary Klausner. That’s much sooner than the original proposed trial date of May 9, 2017 — a year from when Klausner was expected to make a decision on the defense motion to dismiss the case (a motion he would ultimately deny).
That moves up the rest of the legal timetable as well, with primary motions from both lawyers due within two weeks, possibly including any additional defendants CBS and Paramount might add. While the primary copyright infringement complaint is against Axanar Productions and its principal, Alec Peters, the studios left room to add more defendants, reserved for a later time. It appears any additional defendants would have to be included in the lawsuit before the end of the month.
All discovery, including depositions, would have to be completed by Nov. 2, with a pre-trial conference scheduled for Jan. 9.
Remaining in place from the original proposal from both sides is a requirement for the studios and Axanar to undergo what is known as alternative dispute resolution — meeting with a mediator to try and settle before a court date. CBS and Paramount likely have a superior position in these negotiations now, after successfully killing off a motion to dismiss from Axanar’s defense attorney on Monday.
Both sides already have agreed to use magistrate judge Charles Eick, who has heard other copyright cases in the past, including a 2014 case involving the James Bond film franchise.
CBS and Paramount sued Axanar Productions and Peters last year for copyright infringement, claiming that its short “Prelude to Axanar” and the proposed “Star Trek: Axanar” feature-length film were ripped from the Star Trek property jointly owned by the two studios. CBS and Paramount are seeking up to $150,000 in statutory damages, or actual damages, for every infringement violation, as well as an injunction stopping production from moving forward.
Axanar raised $1.3 million to produce the film, according to its own reports, spending that money on commercial space in Los Angeles for a permanent studio, partial set construction, and salaries to various people, including $38,000 plus expenses last year to Axanar’s principal, Alec Peters.
Peters first announced the new trial date Monday in a blog on his Axanar Productions website after attending a hearing earlier that day. He also stated that his legal team was expecting a decision on the motion to dismiss in “a few weeks,” and that it was likely at least the claims against “Star Trek: Axanar” would be struck from the lawsuit. Klausner, however, issued a ruling denying the motion to dismiss later that same day, allowing CBS and Paramount to move forward with its full amended complaint, including the un-produced “Star Trek: Axanar.”
Axanar’s attorney, Erin Ranahan, is expected to file a defense to the studios’ complaint within the next two weeks.
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