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Loeb & Loeb Obtains Key Victory for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. (MGM) in Pink Panther Case

In the case titled Bradley Richlin, et al v. MGM Pictures Inc., in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Judge Dean D. Pregerson granted summary judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims seeking a declaration that they owned an interest in the renewal term copyright in the motion picture The Pink Panther, starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner and Capucine.

Plaintiffs are the widow and other statutory successors of the late Maurice Richlin (“Richlin”).  In 1962, Richlin and the noted director and screenwriter, Blake Edwards (“Edwards”), allegedly co-wrote a 13-page outline for a film titled The Pink Rajah (the “Treatment”), which Plaintiffs claim was the initial “treatment” or story outline for the screenplay that was used to create The Pink Panther.

The Plaintiffs claimed that because Richlin had died before the commencement of the renewal term of copyright for The Pink Panther, under various copyright theories they were the co-owners of the copyright in the Treatment and/or the original Film, and were, therefore, entitled to a percentage of the profits from all nine of the Pink Panther films featuring the Inspector Clouseau character, and the new Pink Panther film starring Steve Martin which is to be released in a few days.  The Court agreed with MGM’s position that there was no separate statutory copyright in the Treatment, and that Richlin was not a joint author of The Pink Panther; therefore, the Plaintiffs had no copyright interest to enforce and dismissed the case with prejudice. 

MGM was represented by Jonathan Zavin, Jacques Rimokh and Sunny Park in the New York office of Loeb & Loeb, and David Grossman in the Los Angeles office of the firm.