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James Bond rights now owned by sister companies

A recent copyright dispute involving the rights and interests to James Bond movies was recently resolved, apparently amicably, between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Danjaq LLC and Kevin McClory. The latter was reportedly involved in the script for the Bond move “Thunderball,” along with Ian Fleming, while the former two are the franchiser and producer of Bond films. McClory had sued Fleming in 1961 for ownership rights after Fleming wrote a novel based on the Bond script, and the parties settled, allowing McClory to produce the film.

McClory was subsequently involved in other legal battles, including one in 1983 in which a London court ruled he had the right to produce Bond movies, and one in 2001 in which his request for royalties from Bond movies was rejected since he waited too long to assert his rights. After the recent litigation, MGM and Danjaq own all rights and interests connected to James Bond.  

The details of the recent settlement have not been made public, but all parties involved seem to be satisfied.

Copyright disputes involving the estates of deceased artists and writers are not all that uncommon. A recent dispute involving the ownership rights to Superman was resolved in favor of Warner Brothers, rather than the estates of the men who are responsible for creating the “man of steel.” That case was resolved by means of a previous agreement which the court ruled had disposed of any remaining rights.

It is important for artists to take steps to protect their intellectual property rights through estate planning. Intellectual property is a specialized area of law, and it is important for those who bring such property to the table to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in this area. 

Source: Los Angeles Times, “MGM and Danjaq settle James Bond rights dispute with McClory estate,” Ryan Faughnder, November 15, 2013. 

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