New Line Cinema has asked a New York federal judge to stop a documentary whose home video release is timed to coincide with the theatrical release of The Golden Compass.
On Monday night, New Line argued during a three-hour hearing that the court should enjoin Koch Entertainment from releasing its video because the studio owns the rights to the book. But U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Tomlinson did not immediately rule on the matter.
Golden Compass, a fantasy based on the first of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, is a potential franchise starter for New Line, which has spent millions on the rights and marketing of the film, according to the lawsuit. The film, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, will be released theatrically on December 7.
The lawsuit, filed the week of November 12 in New York District Court, claims Koch violated the studio's copyrights as well as state and federal unfair competition laws in the planned release of the video, Beyond the Golden Compass: The Magic of Philip Pullman. The studio claims damages of at least $10 million.
In a cynical and transparent effort to unfairly compete with (and) capitalize on the massive publicity and promotional effort attendant to the upcoming release of plaintiff's film, and in complete disregard of plaintiff's exclusive rights in the underlying materials, defendants have produced and are marketing and distributing the infringing video, the lawsuit states.
Additionally, the defendants, which also include Schwartz & Co., XYZ Corps. and various Koch entities, allegedly created promotional materials for the video similar to New Line's Golden Compass marketing materials.
Koch denies it has copied New Line's packaging and claims the studio has only offered as evidence a style guide that is a set of disparate elements that may or may not be juxtaposed together as the trade dress of any specific product.
As for the documentary, Koch does indicate on its Web site that the documentary is being released to coincide with the big-budget film adaptation of Pullman's book. But the company claims the documentary, featuring an interview with the novelist, is based on the book, not the movie.