Less than a week after dueling lawsuits were filed by The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate over the rights to Sundance winner Push, Lionsgate has quietly asked a judge in New York to throw out the Weinstein case, arguing that the court in LA where Lionsgate filed its original suit has jurisdiction.
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. has the documents and more explanation of the arguments both sides are prepared to make to get their case in front of their desired court:
In papers submitted quietly last week (click here and here and here for the full documents), Lionsgate argues that the question of who owns distribution rights to “Push” should be answered in an LA courtroom, where Lionsgate filed a declaratory relief action on the morning of Feb 4, six hours before the Weinsteins filed three separate cases in New York against Lionsgate, sales agency Cinetic and a producer of the film.
Lionsgate’s lawyer, Patti Glaser, argues that filing in good faith in LA before the Weinsteins filed in New York entitles her clients to litigate their case in LA. Obviously, The Weinstein Company’s attorney, Bert Fields, disagrees.
Fields says he’s prepared to cite plenty of cases denying jurisdiction to the party who files first, and he’s confident that New York judge Michael D. Stallman will see the Lionsgate LA lawsuit as a bad-faith preemptive move.
Nonetheless, Lionsgate’s motion to dismiss also previews a larger argument they will likely use to invalidate The Weinstein Company’s claim to the film. LGF says the lawsuit should be dismissed because the Weinsteins don’t have a written agreement to buy the film, all they have is a verbal contract, and a “vague, possibly confirming email.” Lionsgate claims intellectual property rights can’t be transferred orally:
“Because Weinstein’s alleged agreement for the rights to ‘Push’ was never written…Weinstein cannot, as a matter of law, meet the essential element of having a valid contract and its sole cause of action therefore cannot stand.”
Sounds like this could be an interesting trial about the validity of verbal contracts in the movie industry and as a means of transferring intellectual property rights, if the case ever gets to court.
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