The family of the author whose article inspired the original Top Gun film has sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement.
The litigation relates to this year’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick and according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles, Paramount Global unit failed to reacquire the rights to Ehud Yonay’s 1983 article “Top Guns” from his family before releasing the “derivative” sequel.
It is filed by Ehud’s widow, Shosh Yonay, and his son, Yuval Yonay, who live in Israel.
They are seeking unspecified damages, including profits from the sequel and to block the distribution of the movie and further sequels.
Paramount said in a statement: “These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
Top Gun: Maverick is this year’s biggest box office hit, generating $291m (£233.1m) in North America and $548.6m (£439.4m) globally in its first 10 days.
The action film is directed by Joseph Kosinski and has received strong reviews, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as US Navy test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
It is already Cruise’s highest-grossing film domestically, surpassing 2005’s War of the Worlds.
According to the lawsuit, Paramount had exclusive movie rights to Mr Yonay’s article, which was published in California, before making the 1986 film.
However, the family says the movie studio deliberately ignored the termination of the rights in 2020, breaking federal copyright law in the US.
They sent a cease and desist letter on 11 May and in response, Paramount denied the sequel was based on the 1983 article and argued that the second film was “sufficiently completed” by the time the copyright reverted.
The family said this was a “disingenuous attempt” to qualify for an exception to their claim and that the sequel was completed in May 2021.