Loeb & Loeb IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update

The following is courtesy of Copyright Alliance Legal Advisory Board member Loeb & Loeb

Morawski v. Lightstorm Entertainment, USDC C.D. California, January 31, 2013 (unpublished opinion)

District Court grants defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of unauthorized use of plaintiff’s ideas, without compensation, in defendants’ motion picture Avatar, finding that defendants proved on summary judgment that they independently created Avatar and didn’t use plaintiff’s ideas.

Plaintiff Gerald Morawski brought suit against James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, the production company he heads, asserting claims for breach of an express contract, breach of an implied-in-fact contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation based on allegations that defendants used plaintiff’s original ideas to create the 2009 blockbuster motion picture Avatar. In 1991, after Cameron purchased artwork from Morawski, a visual effects consultant, he and Morawski signed a Confidentiality and Non-disclosure Agreement providing, in pertinent part, that if defendant Lightstorm was interested in using plaintiff’s ideas or artwork, it would enter into further negotiations. Morawski later met with Cameron to pitch a film titled Guardians of Eden and provided Cameron with a Conceptual Summary of his ideas. Lightstorm declined to develop the project but later developed and produced Avatar. Morawski asserted that Avatar incorporated original elements of his film idea without his consent. The court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all of plaintiff’s claims, primarily on the finding that Cameron independently created Avatar.