California - A Los Angeles federal judge last week handed down a permanent injunction in favor of the filmmaker Sam Raimi, barring a rival film production studio from making an unauthorized sequel to the cult classic Evil Dead horror films.
Raimi's company Renaissance Pictures Ltd. sued Award Pictures LLC in May alleging the latter production company was threatening to infringe on the trademarks for the phrase "Evil Dead" in relation to motion pictures.
Judge Dale S. Fisher of the Central District of California granted Renaissance a default judgment on Aug. 23 prohibiting Award from using the Evil Dead name.
Renaissance was formed in 1979 by three general partners -- writer-director-producer Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and actor-producer Bruce Campbell -- for the purpose of producing the trio's first motion picture, The Evil Dead.
Since its formation, Renaissance has continued to produce numerous motion pictures, including the films The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II,Evil Dead Ill: Army of Darkness; Darkman, Hard Target, and Timecop, as well as the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, according to the complaint.
Raimi, who directed all of the Evil Dead films, "is one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood," according to the complaint. The three Spiderman films he directed set opening day box office records upon their theatrical release in the United States and all three are included in the 25 highest-grossing domestic films of all time, the complaint says.
Renaissance claims it received a letter in 2004 from Award Pictures asserting its right to make a motion picture entitled Evil Dead 4: Consequences. Renaissance responded that any attempt to make a motion picture under the Evil Dead name and mark would constitute a violation of Renaissance's copyright and trademark rights.
Following the exchange of letters, Renaissance did not hear from Award again until it came to Renaissance's attention that Award had announced on its website an "upcoming series of Evil Dead motion pictures" with Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon as the first installment in development.
Additionally, in February, Award filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, against Renaissance's 2010 application to register the Evil Dead trademark, alleging that Award had a bona fide intent to use the title in its upcoming motion picture productions.
Award is using Renaissance's Evil Dead mark "for the improper purpose of summoning interest in its own business and films by falsely associating itself with Renaissance's cult hits to induce investors," the complaint asserts.
In 2011 the Renaissance team announced that they would be remaking the original The Evil Dead, once again co-written by Raimi and co-produced by Raimi, Campbell and Tapert. Evil Dead LLC, a company set up by the three men and licensed by Renaissance to use the Evil Dead trademark, is currently in pre-production on the new film, which is expected to see release in 2013.