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MGM and James Bond producers settle copyright infringement lawsuit

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and James Bond producers Danjaq LLC settled a copyright infringement lawsuit over a screenplay that tells the story of the formation of the British MI6 intelligence agency, according to court papers filed today.

MGM and the Bond producers sued NBCUniversal last year, alleging the “Section 6” screenplay — which Universal acquired after a bidding war with rival studios — is a 007 knockoff. A trial date had been set for February 2016.

In a notice lodged in Los Angeles federal court, attorneys for both sides stipulated that the matter has been resolved for now, without announcing further details.

Attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

The legal battle concerned a project, “in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill’ and a 00 (double-0) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomaniacal villain,” according to the lawsuit.

In a motion filed in June, NBCUniversal attorneys maintained that the “needless” complaint was brought “in an effort to claim an unfounded monopoly on the British spy genre, and to scare away Universal and any other would-be competitors to James Bond.”

MGM/Danjaq had sought a court order halting the alleged infringement and unspecified damages.

“Section 6,” to star British actor Jack O’Connell, “misappropriates from the James Bond works far beyond the signature aspects of James Bond” and copies “nearly every aspect of the characters, plots dialogue, themes, setting, mood and other key elements of the copyrighted James Bond literary works and motion pictures,” according to the suit, which named screenwriter Aaron Berg as a co-defendant.

The action against Berg was also dismissed without prejudice, meaning a similar suit could be refiled in the future.

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