Back in December, Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios filed a copyright infringement complaint against a Star Trek fan film titled Axanar, arguing that the crowdfunded production infringed upon the studios’ work by using “innumerable” elements of the sci-fi franchise. In response, the defendants submitted a motion for dismissal, requesting specific details and examples of which copyrighted elements Axanar was allegedly using and how.
Now, Paramount and CBS have done just that, with an amended lawsuit that reads like the most detailed Star Trek encyclopedia ever.
The two studios filed an amended lawsuit on Friday that accuses Axanar and its accompanying short film, Prelude to Axanar, of infringing upon everything from the Klingon language to the “feel and mood” of the original Star Trek TV series and films. The updated lawsuit, obtained by EW, goes into specific details about Axanar’s alleged copyright violations, ranging from broad plot points (like the use of phasers and “beaming up”) to minute cosmetic details (like the gold cowl neck on a Starfleet Command uniform and the use of triangular medals).
“Defendants have intentionally sought to replicate the Star Trek Copyrighted Works (down to copying costumes, makeup and jewelry) and, in doing so, they have sought to create a ‘Star Trek’ film,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit also argues that Axanar is infringing upon various races from the world of Trek, right down to the Klingons’ spiky makeup and the Vulcans’ pointy ears and eyebrows.
Other alleged infringements include characters like Garth of Izar and Vulcan ambassador Soval, as well as words like “dilithium,” which the lawsuit defines as “a crystalline substance used in warp propulsion systems to regulate the matter/antimatter reactions that provide the energy necessary for faster-than-light speed.” The lawsuit even calls out the name “Axanar” as an example of infringement, explaining that the word was first mentioned in the 1967 episode, “Court Martial.”
The lawsuit also argues that Axanar executive producer Alec Peters has admitted that the film violates Paramount and CBS’s copyright, as he told 1701News in February: “We violate CBS copyright less than any other fan film.”
Billed as a Star Trek prequel film that takes place 21 years before the first Captain Kirk episode of the original series, Axanar became a crowdfunding hit, raising more than $1 million on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. After the initial lawsuit was filed in December, Peters released a statement saying that the film is a “love letter to a beloved franchise.”
After Paramount and CBS filed the amended lawsuit, Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin took to Twitter to voice his support for the Axanar filmmakers.
“This is getting ridiculous!” Lin wrote. “I support the fans. Trek belongs to all of us.”
UDPATE: Peters and Axanar Productions have released a statement in response to the amended lawsuit, thanking Lin for his support and asking fans to be patient as they craft a legal response.
“Obviously, we’re more than thrilled to have Justin Lin’s support,” Peters said. “We’re all huge fans of the Fast and Furious films, and we can’t wait to see what he does with Star Trek. What we’re seeing here is the fans and filmmakers supporting each other. We just hope the right people are paying attention.
Read the filmmakers’ full statement below.
As you know, Axanar Productions and Alec Peters filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios on the grounds that the complaint was deficient in various respects. Rather than opposing the motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs opted to amend their complaint to attempt to respond to the deficiencies we raised in our motion, which they are entitled to do under the procedural rules. Plaintiffs filed their amended complaint yesterday.
We will have an opportunity to publicly respond to Plaintiffs’ amended complaint later this month by filing a responsive pleading (either a motion to dismiss or answer) with the court. We appreciate that supporters are understandably anxious to know what is going on. We ask for your patience while we work with our lawyers at Winston & Strawn to formulate a response. There’s a legal process in play which is in the hands of our capable legal team, whom we have absolute confidence in. We will update donors and fans as soon as we can.