Axanar Summary Judgment Motion Rulings

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree.

Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title.

She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need.

She can always be bribed with pie.

Axanar Summary Judgment Motion Rulings

Axanar Summary Judgment Motion Rulings plus the Language Creation Society’s response regarding their petition to file an amicus and even the parties’ expert witness information – we’ve got all of that!

Axanar Summary Judgment Motion Rulings

Summary Judgment Motion Rulings/LCS Reply

So a lot has happened and we’ve got it for you. And I will start with the summary judgment rulings as they are far more important.

Parties’ Statements Re Expert Witnesses to be Called

So that is a kind of long way of saying these consist of generalized topics the experts will cover.

Defense

Defense Statement re Expert Witnesses

And as might be expected, defense will call two expert witnesses: accountant Christian Tregellis who will talk about damages and profits, and Professor Henry Jenkins, expected to discuss fandom in order to try to go against  the allegation of willful infringement.

Plaintiffs

Plaintiffs’ Statement re Expert Witness

So on the plaintiffs’ side, only one expert is expected, VP of Product Development at CBS Consumer Products, John Van Citters. Essentially, he will testify about the similarities between the defense’s works and the plaintiffs’.

Language Creation Society Reply Regarding their Amicus Petition

Language Creation Society Reply Regarding their Amicus Petition

So I have already covered the LCS’s first amicus petition. And the reply ended up somewhat similar. Because as before, attorney Marc Randazza attempts to shoehorn a decision on the copyrightability of Klingon into the case. On page 4, he writes:

Although the issue of copyrightability of a language was not
necessary to resolve the motion to dismiss, it should be addressed at
summary judgment (or trial).

Plaintiffs, in fact, in their response, note
that the “[i]t is the use of the Klingon language in this context [i.e. in
the Star Trek works] that will be before the Court.” Dkt. No. 160 at
pp. 4-5. There is no purpose to address the use of Klingon language
in a copyright case if it is not one of the allegedly infringed elements.

In fact, in their motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs argue that
“[t]he Axanar Works copy from the … dialogue … of the Star Trek
works.” Dkt. No. 72 at p. 9. To the extent Plaintiffs are claiming that
Klingon words or phrases are infringed dialogue, the issue of the
copyrightability of Klingon is before the Court.

Uh, no

Except, no, that’s not quite right. Because, let’s say the IP in question was The Addams Family. So as you might recall, the character Gomez speaks occasional bits of Spanish. In addition, the character Morticia occasionally speaks bits of French. However, while Morticia and Gomez are recognizable characters, subject to copyright, French and Spanish are not subject to copyright. And the Addamses both exist as distinct, memorable characters even without the language shifts.

And the same can apply to Star Trek’s Klingons. Because one of their characteristics is – at times – speaking Klingon. And that characteristic exists in concert with others, such as forehead ridges, a specific type of costume, a naming convention, etc. Hence to say that one of the details about Klingons is the speaking of Klingon does not mean anyone is litigating the copyrightability of the conlang. It just means Klingon characters sometimes speak Klingon. Just like –

  • Hercule Poirot sometimes speaks French
  • also, Morticia Addams sometimes speaks French
  • yet Gomez Addams sometimes speaks Spanish
  • The characters in Inglorious Basterds speak both German and Italian at times

Way to Go on the Klingon Insults

Finally (because the real story concerns the summary judgment ruling), the Language Creation Society adds Klingon insults and cutesy phraseology to their document. And while Judge Klausner has engaged in some legal shenanigans himself, here it feels forced. Because there is such a thing as too much, and this document fits right into the ‘too much’ wheelhouse.

So will the LCS be allowed to file an amicus? I suspect not.

Cahill Declaration Supporting LCS Reply Re Their Amicus Petition

Cahill Declaration Supporting LCS Reply Re Their Amicus Petition

Finally, as we have seen before, the Cahill declaration really just serves as a means of supporting the LCS’s reply. LaTeigra Cahill is apparently studying for the Nevada Bar. In addition, she works as a law clerk. And her role in this mainly boils down to assisting with scheduling and sitting in on an anticipated phone call which never happened.

Judge Rules on Amicus

Judge Klausner’s Order Denying LCS’s Petition for a Second Amicus

So the above ended up mooted anyway, as Judge Klausner denied the petition for a second LCS amicus.

What’s Next?

So as of the writing of this blog post, the following are on the agenda:

  • January 9, 2017 Pretrial Conference
  • also, January 24, 2017 parties must file their proposed jury instructions
  • January 31, 2017 Trial

And of course the matter can still settle at any time. Therefore I thank you, as always, for your kind support.

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree. Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title. She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need. She can always be bribed with pie.

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  1. Pingback: Axanar Settlement Ends Year-Long Star Trek Case - Semantic Shenanigans

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