A federal judge in Los Angeles is expected to rule literally any day – or even hour – now on motions that could summarily end a copyright infringement lawsuit involving an “independent” Star Trek fan-film.
In the meantime, however, the defendants in the case – Axanar Productions and its principal Alec Peters – have asked the judge that if a trial must start next month, it do so without the use of the phrase “Star Trek.” Which might be considered odd, because the plaintiffs in the case – CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures Inc. – claim Axanar is unlawfully taking their Star Trek property to use as their own.
As part of a number of motions filed over the last few days by both sides to limit evidence, Axanar attorney Erin Ranahan says that if the court allows CBS and Paramount to talk about Star Trek, this would become a trademark case, not a copyright one. And it would ultimately just confuse the jury.
“In an effort to color, cloud and confuse the views of the court and the jury in this case, plaintiffs repeatedly and consistently refer to defendants’ actions in terms of the Star Trek brand or franchise, as though the suggestion that defendants’ works are ‘Star Trek films’ is sufficient to show substantial similarity and, therefore, copyright infringement.”
The issue that might stop this motion dead in its tracks, however, is not just that CBS and Paramount claim Axanar took from their Star Trek intellectual property, but that Axanar and Peters had created (or was in the process of creating) productions known as Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and Star Trek: Axanar. Even after the lawsuit was filed nearly a year ago, Axanar continues to use “Star Trek” in its branding at convention appearances, online, and other places.