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Paramount Pictures sues Puzo estate over ‘Godfather’ sequel

An ongoing feud between the estate of “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo and Paramount Pictures continues to heat up, but perhaps to the dismay of fans of the mafia saga, this one is a lot less gritty than those found in Puzo’s books.

Last week saw the release of another sequel in “The Godfather” series, just the latest chapter of a battle over intellectual property. Back in February Paramount filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against Anthony Puzo, the late author’s son and the executor of his estate, in an effort to stop the book — titled “The Family Corleone” — from being published because the studio says it wasn’t authorized. Paramount claims it purchased the copyright to the classic mobster series in 1969 and authorized just one sequel, “The Godfather Returns,” to be published by Random House in 2004, five years after Mario Puzo died.

But another sequel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” was published in 2006 without the studio’s permission, the lawsuit claims. Paramount says it’s trying to protect not only its copyright and trademark interests, but the integrity of “The Godfather” legacy.

Anthony Puzo countersued in March, arguing that the contract between his father and Paramount didn’t include book publishing rights. His lawsuit also contends that Paramount disregarded contractual promises it made to the late author and breached a 1969 contract. To put an end to the matter, Puzo and his attorney are seeking an end to the studio’s rights, along with damages that could exceed $10 million — a steep figure, but one that beats waking up next to a horse’s head.

Until the matter is settled, proceeds from the new sequel, “The Family Corleone,” will be put in escrow. The Puzo estate and Paramount are hoping to resolve their battle through a mediator who will, with any luck, give both parties an offer they can’t refuse.

Source: Bloomberg, “‘The Godfather,’ Anti-Piracy: Intellectual Property (Update 1),” Ellen Rosen, May 14, 2012

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