In what was probably the biggest revelation to hit the entertainment world since Doctor Who fans learned the next Christmas special will air at Christmas, we finally have definitive proof on who owns Star Trek.
And the answer won’t surprise you at all. It’s CBS Studios Inc. and Paramount Pictures, the two companies suing an “independent” Star Trek production.
In multiple filings from Axanar Productions and its principal Alec Peters since the studios sued them last December, defense attorney Erin Ranahan has questioned whether or not CBS and Paramount even own Star Trek – a copyright claim they have had unchallenged through various corporate ownership changes over the past 50 years.
The questions were first asked in two motions to dismiss filed by Ranahan (which a judge denied), and most recently during evidence discovery requests where Ranahan pushed Paramount to allow directors J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin to get involved.
In a supplemental filing made in a Los Angeles federal court on Friday, Ranahan said any legal questions about who owns Star Trek has been resolved. CBS and Paramount provided a “chain of title documents” on Sept. 27, good enough for Axanar to withdraw the request for more.
CBS and Paramount sued Axanar and Peters for copyright infringement late last year, claiming the work behind its production Star Trek: Axanar and a professional studio opened with it went too far when it came to Star Trek fan-films. Axanar raised $1.5 million through various fundraisers, more than any other Star Trek fan production, and has only produced a trailer and a short.
Axanar also opened a studio just outside Los Angeles, which is now being made available for other commercial productions. Peters, who collected a salary from the donations as a producer on Axanar, claimed in social media that all profits from those rentals would finance Axanar.
In filings earlier this month, Ranahan and Axanar asked for CBS and Paramount to prove the chain of ownership they had in Star Trek all the way back to Gene Roddenberry. The studios rejected that demand saying Ranahan had no basis to assume Roddenberry ever owned the copyright to Star Trek.
A hearing to work out final conflicts in the discovery process is scheduled for Oct. 21, and discovery itself is slated to end Nov. 2.
The trial is set to begin in a Los Angeles federal court Jan. 31.
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