Defeated Disney’s Summary Judgment Motion Before Settling Copyright Case Relating to “Pirates of the Caribbean”

September 2022

Arthur Lee Alfred II et al. v. The Walt Disney Pictures (C.D. Cal.)

Serving as lead trial counsel for two Hollywood screenwriters, Robins Kaplan argued and defeated Walt Disney Pictures’ summary judgment motion in a high-profile copyright case over the multi-billion-dollar blockbuster movie franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean.” After five years of litigation, the case settled confidentially in August of 2022, and the case was dismissed in September of 2022. The firm deposed some of Hollywood’s biggest names, such as famed producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The Wrap and Bloomberg Law each highlighted this case.

The case was originally filed in in 2017. The district court granted Disney’s motion to dismiss, finding that the parties’ works were not substantially similar as a matter of law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that plaintiffs’ screenplay “shares significant similarities with the film to survive a motion to dismiss,” thereby reviving plaintiffs’ claims and remanding them to the district court for further adjudication. On remand, Robins Kaplan was retained as lead trial counsel and led briefing and oral argument on Disney’s motion for summary judgment in fall of 2021.

On December 17, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied Disney’s motion for summary judgment and allowed the case to proceed to the next stage in the litigation. The parties then completed fact discovery and exchanged expert reports. In September of 2022, the parties resolved the litigation through a confidential settlement agreement. Trial was scheduled to begin in February of 2023.

Past results are reported to provide the reader with an indication of the type of litigation we practice. They do not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case, as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.

Patrick M. Arenz


Member of Executive Board

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