Calif. High Court Should Review Pure Flix Idea Theft Case

Peter Shimamoto authors an opinion for Law360.

The article contends that a California Court of Appeal’s November 2018 decision in an idea submission case, Sullivan v. Pure Flix Entertainment LLC, misstates the applicable law and creates unwarranted potential exposure for studios.

The primary plaintiff was an actor and writer who pitched an idea for a feature film titled “Proof” to the defendant, the studio Pure Flix that specializes in Christian-themed films. He wrote a first draft of the screenplay for the defendant but was ultimately unable to secure financing for the film. Then two other people contacted Pure Flix about an idea for another movie, “God’s Not Dead.” Pure Flix produced and released the movie in March 2014.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that “God’s Not Dead” was based on his idea for the movie “Proof.” The defendants moved for summary judgment, which was granted. However, the court then reversed the trial court’s decision regarding the contract claims, stating that “core concepts of the main storylines [of “God’s Not Dead” and “Proof] are similar.”

Peter asserts two specific errors in the court’s analysis: 1) that the court did not consider the defendants’ prior knowledge of the films’ “core concepts”; and 2) that the court should not have found that “core concepts” alone can support a finding of substantial similarity.”

Because of this, the defendants have filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court.

Read Peter’s full opinion in Law360 here.

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