Who will prevail? Will it be Renaissance Pictures, which was formed in 1979 by producer-director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and actor-producer Bruce Campbell for the sole purpose of making the first film, or will it be Award Pictures, which says it plans to make a fourth film in the series? Read on for all the details...
This whole ordeal started when Award Pictures announced that they were planning on resurrecting the Evil Dead franchise which hasn't saw a new film since 1992's Army of Darkness. Allegedly Raimi now has intentions of his own to bring forth another sequel which will be produced by Sony Pictures and FilmDistrict and he feels that Arrow is interfering with his plans.
For their defense, Award Pictures is using a comment that was made in a 2000 book in which Raimi stated that he would never do a sequel as proof that the "Evil Dead" trademark was abandoned by the producer-director. As a result he company now believe that it is the new primary trademark holder of the film title.
The lawsuit should teach a valuable lesson to all those in Hollywood who attempt to lower expectations among fans and the media for a sequel to a cult hit.
Renaissance says in its lawsuit that fans "have long been eager for another installment," and Raimi finally announced last year he would co-write and co-produce a remake of the original. Shortly before the announcement, Renaissance went to the U.S. Trademark Office to register the mark.
One unforeseeable problem occurred - Award Pictures filed an objection, claiming they were also preparing for their own Evil Dead film. The company stated that Renaissance's hold on "Evil Dead" was abandoned and thus, Award Pictures should be deemed as being a prior user.
In an effort to show this "abandonment," Award Pictures pointed to the comments attributed to Tapert and Raimi in the 2000 book, The Evil Dead Companion: "Ha," said Rob and Sam. "We're never going to do a sequel."
"This statement is a public declaration by the defendant that the defendant abandoned the alleged 'mark,' Evil Dead, decades ago," says Award Pictures in papers to the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Award Pictures then goes on to say that even if Evil Dead was a valid mark upon the release of the first film, the sequels can't be counted as continued use because they were both "works for hire" and "single works." Additionally, the company points to 20 other motion pictures that have used Evil Dead within their title over the years, saying that Renaissance has exhibited "uncontrolled, unregulated and undefended use of Evil Dead." Finally, Award says Renaissance's purported trademark claims constitute a defrauding of others in the entertainment industry.
As a result, Renaissance has decided to strike back this week by issuing a lawsuit against Award Pictures, saying it indeed has used its mark, for example licensing Evil Dead video games, dolls, clothing, memorabilia, comic books, etc.
According to the lawsuit, "As a result of Renaissance's use of the Evil Dead mark and the cult success of the films and related products, the Evil Dead mark has acquired enormous value, has become famous among the relevant consuming public and motion picture trade and is recognized as identifying and distinguishing Renaissance exclusively and uniquely as the source of goods sold and services provided under the Evil Dead mark."
Renaissance claims that Award Pictures' planned film entitled Evil Dead 4: Consequences, is intended to cause confusion to consumers and that the key plot elements and character names "would inevitably infringe Renaissance's copyright rights in The Evil Dead." Alleging trademark infringement, false advertising and injury to business reputation, Renaissance is asking for an injunction against further infringement and further monetary damages.
So the moral to this whole story is this -- If you're a director or a producer in Hollywood, then you should be more careful about what you say, especially if it's going to be published.
Please let us know your thoughts on this whole drama which is unfolding even as your reading this. I would personally rather see a fourth film from Raimi and company.