At this point, a judge doesn't see enough similarity in work from Gary L. Goldman, the writer of 'Total Recall.'
, Disney's Oscar-winning animated film that grossed more than $1 billion two years ago. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald ruled that the plaintiff hadn't show him enough to state a plausible claim for infringement.
filed the lawsuit in March. The plaintiff alleged that
derived from work pitched by Gary L. Goldman, whose credits include writing
. In his complaint, Goldman described working with Disney on another film and pitching his own project (titled
The problem, as Fitzgerald sees it, is that Esplanade failed to include Goldman's materials for review. After Disney complained about this in its dismissal bid, Esplanade attempted to detail similarities, but it was insufficient for the judge.
Despite coming to this conclusion, the judge runs through an analysis anyway.
"Perhaps the most specific and detailed allegation is that the two protagonists present an odd pair — one a predator, the other prey, one optimistic, the other a cynical pessimist," states the order to dismiss. "But this is a cliché of the buddy cop genre. See, e.g.,
(Columbia Pictures 1997) (streetwise, charming youngster is paired with a stodgy old coot);
(New Line Cinema 1998) (straight-laced Hong Kong detective is paired with wisecracking, reckless LAPD detective);
(20th Century Fox 2013) (straight-laced FBI agent is paired with an unconventional Boston cop)."
"The differences between the character designs outnumber the similarities," writes the judge. "Most obviously, almost none of the above pairings actually include the same animals. A hyena is not a fox (and in reality is a much larger animal than a fox) and a grizzly bear is not a water buffalo. Additionally, the
characters are all elaborately costumed. And the animation style itself is very different between the two sets of characters: whereas the Disney characters are typically cute and appealing, the
characters evoke a darker, seedier aesthetic. ... The two character designs bear little resemblance to one another."
As a result, Fitzgerald grants Disney's dismissal motion but does so with leave to amend, meaning that Esplanade will have an opportunity to cure defects.
In the meantime, Disney is winning and is represented by Daniel Petrocelli and Bo Pearl at O'Melveny. Esplanade is handled by Gary Gans and Jeffery McFarland at Quinn Emanuel.