Another lawsuit has come to haunt The Conjuring series.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, The Conjuring franchise has been fraught with litigation and the latest complaint includes a $900 million damage claim by author Gerald Brittle.
Brittle, in the complaint said that the horror franchise infringes on his 1980 book The Demonologist, which tells the stories of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The 355-page amended complaint is filed against Warner Bros., New Line Productions and director James Wan, among others in Virginia federal court.
The author claims that in a 1978 agreement for his book, the couple agreed to a no “competing work” provision that is still in effect. Under it, Brittle says, the Warrens aren’t allowed to make or contract any works based on the “same subject” as The Demonologist, specifically their “lives and experiences as paranormal investigators.”
The attorney of the case, Patrick C Henry II noted, “(W)hen Lorraine Warren granted the Defendants the right to use the Warren Case Files, which the Defendants themselves repeatedly state their movies are based on, she could not have done so because she had years earlier contractually granted that exclusive right to use those same Warren cases, Warren Case Files and related materials to the Plaintiff.”
He added, “It is very hard to believe that a large conglomerate such as Warner Brothers, with their army of lawyers and who specializes in intellectual property rights deals, would not have found The Demonologist book or the deals related to it, or Brittle for that matter. Now the ‘only logical conclusion’ is that defendants knew about the deals and ignored them thinking “they would never get caught.”
The author further claimed that New Line explicitly told The Conjuring screenwriters not to read his book because the studio didn’t have the rights to it.
“(The) Defendants have built a billion-dollar franchise based on rights they knew they did not possess,” continued Henry.
Brittle is now seeking nearly a billion consisting of disgorgement of defendants’ profits and trebled damages from the alleged conspiracy plus any profits from the stock premium that AT&T is paying Time Warner in their merger that is attributable to the franchise and an injunction to stop the release of Annabelle 2 and to prevent any other future films connected to the Warrens from being made.
Brittle is suing for copyright infringement, common law trespass to chattels, statutory business conspiracy, conversion and tortious interference with contract.
Henry further said that proving access is typically the most difficult aspect of succeeding in a copyright infringement case, but he says he’ll have no problem showing it here.
A Warner Bros. spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter that the studio has not yet been served with the complaint and declined further comment.
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