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Axanar signs Winston & Strawn to Defend CBS/Paramount lawsuit

WS

Axanar Productions Signs Winston & Strawn as Legal Counsel in Copyright Infringement Suit.

Valencia, California-based Axanar Productions has engaged Winston & Strawn as legal counsel to help defend it against claims made by Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios.

(Valencia, CA) – Alec Peters, Executive Producer of AXANAR, a feature-length film financed through crowd funding and direct donations from fans, announced today that the company producing the film, Axanar Productions, has engaged Winston & Strawn, one of the leading IP practices in the country, to provide legal counsel in its lawsuit with CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation. Representing Axanar Productions and Peters will be attorneys Erin Ranahan and Andrew Jick from the firm’s Los Angeles office.  Winston & Strawn have agreed to represent Axanar Productions and Alec Peters on a pro-bono basis.

The suit, filed by CBS and Paramount on December 29, 2015, seeks to stop Axanar Productions from producing a fan film set in the Star Trek universe. The suit also asks for damages from the production company, its chief executive Alec Peters and a host of unnamed defendants who were involved in the production of the short film PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

“We’re pleased to have our case taken up by Winston & Strawn,” said Peters. “The knowledge, credibility and reputation they bring to this matter will certainly help us work things out with CBS and Paramount in a professional manner and, we hope, to a mutual benefit so we can go on and make a Star Trek film fans have told us they want to see.”

In the meantime, Axanar Productions has suspended fund-raising activities for the feature production and has announced a delay in principal photography until the fate of the lawsuit can be discussed in more detail with counsel. “We want to produce this film,” said Peters. “And we want to respect the rights of the owners of the intellectual property on which our film is based.”

A formal response to the lawsuit will be prepared and delivered to the court by the extended deadline of February 22nd.

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AXANAR and PRELUDE TO AXANAR are projects produced by AXANAR Productions in Valencia, CA. Axanar For more information on AXANAR and associated production efforts, visit: www.startrekaxanar.com. For downloads of visual assets and other editorial content related to Axanar Productions projects, please visit: www.axanarpr.com.

 

Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • EJCox says:

    I take it advice of Counsel is to suspend fund raising? How can I help at this point?

    • John Morgan says:

      We would all like to help maybe a boycott of CBS & Paramount shows would help.

      • D. Hopper says:

        Paramount has a new Star Trek movie coming out this year. Perhaps people could take the $20 they would spend on the ticket for Star Trek Beyond and donate it to the legal defence of Axanar. Then they could drop Paramount a note to say that they won’t be going to see Beyond because they had to spend the money defending Axanar.

  • Doug says:

    It is my greatest hope that this will work out as a win-win for all parties. It is time for the bloodshed to end and for a peaceful resolution that will enable the completion of Axanar as well as support the production of additional films in the future. Best wishes.

    • Michael says:

      I entirely agree. From what I understand of the copyright laws is that, if you don’t defend your rights, you might loose them. I think CBS saw the risk of loosing their rights due to the quality of Axanar and probably the quantity of fan movies. So from their point of view they might not even want to stop Axanar but only defend their rights and use Axanar as a showcase. It’s a pitty though that this conflict resolution can only be achieved through lawyers.

      • Dennis Malone says:

        I cannot see anyone losing their rights to something because they give permision (under restrictions….which is the pattern for this franchise) to honor that something to someone else (how would that even make sense? it`s not like they say “sure go ahead and whatever” they don`t, so how could it end up being “sure you own the copyright, but you allowed someone else to participate so sucks to be you”….?), “continues” and “new voyages” apparently have the restriction of “offer it freely do not sell the end product” and they are doing fairly well (although “continues” is doing much better at the production than “new voyages”)…….I kinda wish they would pool resources, THAT would be awesome.

        Unless more information comes to light about why this is happening, we can only speculate…..just wish the big corps would grow up and just enjoy the expanded exposure of something they will only ultimately benefit from…and own the copyright to….

  • marcus coull Australia.. says:

    I will support Axanar all the way.Live Long and Prosper!!!

  • Walking in LA says:

    No more podcasts either. The must be running silent and deep. Probably trying to manage the balance of terror.

  • Alice says:

    My inside source guessed correctly that a lawfirm would probably take your case on pro-bono

  • Dennis Malone says:

    The precedent of allowing “trek” fan films has already been set, the courts should just smack down cbs and paramount and make them pay for the production for attempting this foolishness…STOP THE CORPORATIONS TERRORIZING WHOMEVER THEY WISH ON A WHIM!!!

    • Dennis Malone says:

      cbs and paramount could vanish tomorrow,how many would notice or even care….. but “trek” will live on in the hearts of fans for a very long time………..

      Axanar is the next installment of the love of “trek”.

      • Steven Goutzioulis says:

        I hope all these big Movie Studios Vanish…!
        They are destroying the Movie Industry.
        These executives have absolutely no idea about the very nature and purpose of Movies, all they care about is short term profit. We need more independent movie studios.

        • Brad says:

          Its interesting how the other fan productions are not being bothered. Here’s a thought for you Fat Rich Jerks that run those multi-million dollar companies that are slowly and surely dumbing down all movies to a series of near-misses and explosions. TBH the new JJ movies, I haven’t paid to see one, and I cant say that I will. Axanar I would pay to see. Nuff said – get your heads out of your asses Paramount. Or perhaps give the green light to Star Trek projects that we want to see. Because, we will find a way despite you.

  • Danny says:

    So if fund raising has been suspended, can people still make unsolicited donations? I’m just curious about what you all need to do to keep the legalities of any incoming cash above board.

  • Roman Tom says:

    While it is best to make peace with Paramount and CBS “Star Trek” is an idea thought long before they ever bought it. And you cannot own an idea.
    It is clear they want to protect the profit they will make putting the new series on their access network, making fans pay them for it.
    I will not pay if they go forward with this action. I will not give them a penny for their new Star Trek episodes. Profit from a good idea if fine, but it’s not their idea. It was someone else’s idea a long time ago. I will boycott CBS Access if they infringe upon the right to expand someone else’s idea. They can own their copyright but they don’t own the idea. That belongs to Gene Roddenberry and those who have carried on after him.

  • Allen Hall says:

    Congratulations on signing with such an outstanding IP firm. If anyone can argue and win a fair use defense, they can. Congratulations on the increased YouTube views on prelude to axanar. One benefit from all the free press. If you prevail in the lawsuit your movie release promises to be huge now that the media is primed

  • Do what Michael J Fox did in The Secret of My Success, buy Paramount out. I am not entirely kidding here. You may have the fan base support.

  • Romulan Steve says:

    Paramount was taken aback by the fan outrage over their decision to let a Trek-hating Warsie commit genocide against our beloved Vulcans, they tried to mollify us by telling us that the Prime Timeline would now be open for gamers and fan films, while “official” Trek would hereafter take place in the Abrams-Verse. I doubt that Axanar would have gone forward without that understanding. Once Axanar reached and breached it’s funding goals they turned around an pulled a Darth Vader.
    “I have altered the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further.”
    Don’ let them BS you that it’s just Axanar, all fan productions are now in their cross-hairs If Farragut, Phase 2, Renegades, or any of the other small fry happen onto a pearl of a script and catch fire on Indegogo, they’ll be coming after them too. The only response to ha hard-nosed Vader is a hard-nose Kirk:
    “This ship will go….Where I order it to go…..Or I will order…..It’s…..Destruction!”
    Keep us posted on the where and the when, a few flash mobs and protest rallies outside of the courthouse may be in order to create just the kind of publicity PM-CBS DOESN’T need on Trek’s golden anniversary.

    • They are not surprised, not one bit. Don’t let them fool you. They’ve been upsetting Trekkies since the 90’s at conventions claiming that Star Trek is Fantasy, so they can do as they want. This only proves their belief that time lines and past history in a story mean nothing. The almighty dollar in its easiest form of acquisition is Paramounts only goal. I believe that is a Ferengi rule somewhere (only kidding). but it obviously went to their head.

      They obviously had no idea how to proceed with the universe and therefore, changed it so they could run with the same characters that we all love and put them into totally new environments.

      The best storytellers follow the laws and history put down in a story. They are only changed if there is a very good reason for the change. The Star Trek Time cops null and void any so called reason for them to change the universe the way they did. That movie, I will not do it justice by naming it, the movie that shall not be named, destroyed the ST universe and ran against good story telling protocol. This is the very thing they’ve been preaching at the conventions, while ignoring the fans complaints, face to face. When they say or give you the impression they were caught off guard, that is clearly a PR line.

      Axanar from what I have been reading here, so far, seems to honor Gene’s ST Universe and the fan’s love of it. If Axanar should fail, we as fans, may need to move on to another ideal…..

      That is what Paramount and all of William Shatner’s documentaries don’t understand. Star Trek is an ideal that we will be better, can be better, will learn to be better as a person, people, and society.

      • Romulan Steve says:

        Fantasy, right, like flip-phones, tablets, bluetooth. and thumb drives used to be fantasy.

        Upon reflection, a protest rally outside the courthouse is still a viable idea, but could backfire if done wrong. Forget the pointed ears, uniforms, and all that other cosplay sheet, this is serious business and we’re not here to have fun. We should dress business casual, as if for church, or a job interview. The last thing we want to do in play into Paramount’s hand by looking like a bunch of freaks. Save our creativity and craftsmanship instead for the picket signs we bring, which can be made with Photoshop, Illustrator, and other graphics software then posted online for download and printing. i have a modest amount of expertise in that area and would love to contribute. Hippie anti-war rallies of the ’60’s should not be our model, but rather the solemn dignity of the freedom rides and demos of the early civil rights movement. We Shall Overcome.

        Overcome we will, and overcome we must. This is far bigger than than your modest production, Star Trek, or even Paramount. This is about new, low-cost production technology, crowd-funding, and the emerging threat it poses to Big Hollywood’s stranglehold on the entertainment industry. Star Trek fandom has always skewed toward those with above-average intelligence and technological savvy, so it’s really no surprise that we would be the first to show up on the radar, and the first that Big Hollywood would seek to make an example of.

        Lose this one and we lose far more than Axanar. The “damages” assessed will forced you to break up and sell your studio, you will be barred from any future fundraising or production attempts, and everybody associated with your project, from the stars down to the smallest donors, will never get work in the industry again. It’s all about precedent, NCC-1701 should have sailed off into the public domain decades ago, and would have if not for Disney’s lawyers establishing “perpetual” ownership of their IP.

        Win this one, and perhaps we will fund the buyout of the entire franchise, and begin a bold new era of film production, where scripts with heart, soul, brains, and balls co-exist with the flash, dash, teets and ash. Roddenberry knew how to do it, but was constrained by the budget, technology, and social mores of his time. The future can be very bright indeed, but we are going to have to fight for it.

        Even at the risk of getting blackballed in Hollyweird, I stand with Axanar.

        Excelsior!

      • Romulan Steve says:

        Fantasy, right, like flip-phones, tablets, bluetooth. and thumb drives used to be fantasy.

        Upon reflection, a protest rally outside the courthouse is still a viable idea, but could backfire if done wrong. Forget the pointed ears, uniforms, and all that other cosplay sheet, this is serious business and we’re not here to have fun. We should dress business casual, as if for church, or a job interview. The last thing we want to do in play into Paramount’s hand by looking like a bunch of freaks. Save our creativity and craftsmanship instead for the picket signs we bring, which can be made with Photoshop, Illustrator, and other graphics software then posted online for download and printing. i have a modest amount of expertise in that area and would love to contribute. Hippie anti-war rallies of the ’60’s should not be our model, but rather the solemn dignity of the freedom rides and demos of the early civil rights movement. We Shall Overcome.

        Overcome we will, and overcome we must. This is far bigger than than your modest production, Star Trek, or even Paramount. This is about new, low-cost production technology, crowd-funding, and the emerging threat it poses to Big Hollywood’s stranglehold on the entertainment industry. Star Trek fandom has always skewed toward those with above-average intelligence and technological savvy, so it’s really no surprise that we would be the first to show up on the radar, and the first that Big Hollywood would seek to make an example of.

        Lose this one and we lose far more than Axanar. The “damages” assessed will forced you to break up and sell your studio, you will be barred from any future fundraising or production attempts, and everybody associated with your project, from the stars down to the smallest donors, will never get work in the industry again. It’s all about precedent, NCC-1701 should have sailed off into the public domain decades ago, and would have if not for Disney’s lawyers establishing “perpetual” ownership of their IP.

        Win this one, and perhaps we will fund the buyout of the entire franchise, and begin a bold new era of film production, where scripts with heart, soul, brains, and balls co-exist with the flash, dash, teats and ash. Roddenberry knew how to do it, but was constrained by the budget, technology, and social mores of his time. The future can be very bright indeed, but we are going to have to fight for it.

        Even at the risk of getting blackballed in H-wood, I stand with Axanar.

        Excelsior!

        • Don’t get me wrong. I do believe in copyright protection, but Star Trek is unique. ST was saved and reborn by its fans. How? By keeping the story alive in fanzines, fan run conventions etc. I was visiting Creations long before it ran a ST convention of its own. Back then they were a great family run community comic book shop that catered to its customers. They were great. Once they bought out the copyright and put all the fan run conventions out of business that is when I started to take notice. Who allowed this and encouraged this, Paramount. Paramount forgot who saved ST. It was the fans.

          ST back then had a whole wealth of imaginative writers to choose from had they wanted to tap into it. I also understand why they claim to have distanced themselves from fan ideas. Supposedly, the fans were submitting stories and some happened to be similar to those they were writing unaware that it was similar to a fan writer’s idea. They were then sued and were now forced not to allow any preview of fan written scripts. This goes against Gene’s support of the Fandom by allowing fan script submissions. Did they truly have to break that feed from the fans?

          What Gene supported vs what any business may or should allow may be two different things. In my mind a precedent has been set in the history of ST and its fans that may help this case.

          As for me, I have seen Paramount stray from Star Trek’s vision and its treatment of the fan base. Sadly, I do see this as Paramount going against its fan base for the bottom dollar. Imagine what they could have done had they thought of keeping true to the story and the ST Universe. That is why the fan conventions were so successful, that is why Axanar is in a great position, they both stayed true to the ST ideals.

          That is the biggest threat to Paramount.

  • Everard Taylor says:

    Star Trek Beyond will not be getting any support from me. Prelude showed up CBS and Paramount. The announcement of a new series was a precursor to the ” legal action ” move. To all star trek fans and fan movie supporters, back axanar productions for their future and your future in fan made films.