Last week, Jake Mandeville-Anthony, a British screenwriter, filed a lawsuit against Disney and Pixar in U.S. District Court alleging that the films Cars, and the upcoming Cars 2, are infringing works.
Specifically, Mandeville-Anthony’s complaint alleges that the Cars franchise was derived from two of his screenplays. The first screenplay, entitled “Cookie & Co.,” chronicled the true-life adventure of racecar driver Michael Owen Perkins; and the second screenplay, entitled “Cars,” was a fictional story that featured 46 different animated car characters.
To prove that Cars and Cars 2 infringed upon his copyrights, Mandeville-Anthony will need to prove, along with ownership of a valid copyright, that Disney and Pixar had access to his screenplays and that Cars and Cars 2 have substantial similarities to those screenplays.
Given what’s known about his case, he may be able to successfully prove both. Moreover, it seems likely that he could at least present a genuine issue of material fact, thus overcoming any potential motion for summary judgment.
In regards to proof of access, Mandeville-Anthony claims that he sent copies of his screenplays to Disney, and that in 1993, he met with current Pixar general manager, Jim Morris, to discuss the screenplays. Furthermore, for his offered proof of substantial similarity, Mandeville-Anthony highlights that “both [works] have characters named ‘Stanley’ modeled after a Model T Ford, [b]oth have lead characters modeled after a ‘James Aston-Martin’ sports car,” and both contain many other character similarities.
Aside from damages, Mandeville-Anthony is seeking an injunction to prevent the release of Cars 2. While I think he has a reasonable chance to succeed in his copyright infringement claim, I highly doubt that the court will enjoin the release of the sequel to a film that grossed over $450 million at the box office.
Plus, we’ve been waiting five years for this!