Paramount Pictures and Puzo estate battle over 'Godfather' sequel rights

Paramount Pictures and the Puzo family met in court last week, but no indication was given of when a verdict would be made.

'The Godfather' was produced by Paramount Studios.

The legal troubles between Paramount Pictures and the family of “Godfather” author Mario Puzo continue, with Puzo's family and Paramount Pictures meeting in court late last week.

Paramount, which was behind the “Godfather” movies, sued Mario Puzo’s son Anthony Puzo in an attempt to stop publication of the “Godfather” prequel “The Family Corleone” this winter, despite the fact that “Corleone” had been approved by the Puzo family. The Puzos filed a counterclaim stating that the studio had been given plenty of notice about the publication of the book and requested $10 million in damages.

The book “The Family Corleone” was written by author Ed Falco, uncle of “The Sopranos” actress Edie Falco, and was published in May despite the lawsuit.

Paramount claims that it bought all copyright interests and rights as well as “literary rights” to “The Godfather” from Mario Puzo in 1969, which the studio says would include rights to the “Godfather” characters in other books. Paramount says the Puzo family can only release the book "The Godfather” as well as any adaptations of that original story.

The Puzo family says the original agreement did not include book rights and is now asking the court to affirm that they have the rights to any “Godfather” sequels and that the studio does not have film rights to any possible movie adaptations of sequels.

US District Judge Alison Nathan presided in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, when oral arguments were made, but did not issue a decision on the case or state when a verdict would be made.

Paramount said in a statement that it had “tremendous respect and admiration for Mario Puzo" and that it has “an obligation to and will protect our copyright and trademark interests.”

A lawyer for the Puzo family, Bertram Fields, told Reuters that if a new film adaptation of a “Godfather” sequel became a possibility, the Puzos would be disinclined to work with Paramount on a movie.

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