Axanar ProductionsOn Monday, a Los Angeles-based US District Court judge ruled that Axanar Productions, a crowd-funded Star Trek fanfiction production company, would have to face a copyright infringement lawsuit (PDF) from CBS and Paramount, which own the rights to the Star Trek TV and film franchise.
In a blog post about the upcoming trial dates, leader of Axanar Productions Alec Peters seemed undeterred by the news, writing, “I am happy to say our trial got moved up to January 31, 2017…

That means, we could win this case and have Axanar back in production in March, 2017. Yes, we will finish Axanar!”
Axanar Productions, which has already produced a short film called Prelude to Axanar and has plans to make a high-quality feature film simply called Axanar, argued in its motion to dismiss that CBS and Paramount’s copyright infringement claims are too vague.

The production company also contended that some of CBS and Paramount’s claimed copyrighted elements, including costumes, the Starlet insignia, the Klingon language, and the “mood or theme” of Star Trek, were not protected by copyright law.
The judge disagreed with the nascent production company’s arguments. “Courts do not require copyright claims to be pled with such particularity,” the judge said of Axanar’s rebuttal that individual TV shows and films showing the copyrighted elements were not cited in the CBS and Paramount complaint.

The judge also ruled that although some of the non-protected items cited by CBS and Paramount for copyright infringement might not be protectable on their own, the owners of the Star Trek copyrights would be able to combine those elements together to find copyright protection if a jury agrees that Axanar Productions combined those elements “in such a way that recreates the Star Trek world.”
Axanar Productions also tried to argue that since its feature film hadn’t been written or filmed yet, the copyright infringement lawsuit against it was premature.

But CBS and Paramount alleged Peters had posted that Axanar Productions had a “fully revised and locked script” on Facebook in the months leading up to the lawsuit.

The judge ruled that that was sufficient to find it plausible that a final draft of the Axanar script exists.
“Although the Court declines to address whether Plaintiffs’ Claims will prosper at this time,” the judge wrote, “the Court does find Plaintiffs’ claims will live long enough to survive Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.”
In another blog post, Peters wrote that Axanar Productions is trying to settle with CBS and Paramount “so we can move forward with telling the story of AXANAR in a way that satisfies both the studios and the over ten thousand fans who financially supported our project.” The production company’s lawyers are set to deliver a response to CBS and Paramount’s amended complaint in two weeks.