Paramount Pictures Sued for Copyright Infringement of Story Underlying ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Heirs of writer Ehud Yonay have filed a federal copyright suit against Paramount Pictures Corporation concerning its alleged misappropriation of a 1983 story entitled “Top Guns.” Monday’s lawsuit claims that Yonay’s story, the rights to which Paramount obtained shortly after its release, was the “clear genius” behind the 1986 motion picture Top Gun, as well as the recently released and successful sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

While Paramount obtained the rights to make its first blockbuster hit, the complaint asserts that in 2018, Yonay’s heirs lawfully revoked Paramount’s rights to the story, effective January 2020. Despite this, Paramount proceeded with the sequel which it completed in May 2021. The plaintiffs contend that Paramount’s conscious failure to secure a new license of film and ancillary rights warrant a finding of willful infringement.

The Los Angeles, Calif. complaint includes details about how, without Yonay’s “literary efforts and evocative prose and narrative, Paramount’s beloved film franchise would not exist.” It goes on to argue that the 2022 sequel, like the original, bears key elements that are substantially similar to Yonay’s story about a hotshot pilot and his radio intercept officer and their experience as members of an elite Navy fighter squadron.

The complaint states a declaratory judgment, an injunctive relief, and a copyright infringement claim. It asks that the court enjoin the production studio from distributing or reproducing the sequel and for an award of damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by Toberoff & Associates P.C. and Alex Kozinski.