Fight heats up between Paramount and Mario Puzo’s estate

“The Godfather” author’s son countersues movie studio

In line with any good mob story, the fight is getting bloody.

Last month, Paramount Pictures sued the estate of Mario Puzo, author of the popular 1960s novel “The Godfather,” for copyright infringement. In its suit, the studio claimed Puzo’s estate violated Paramount’s copyright on “The Godfather” when it published a second sequel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” without permission. The studio—which purchased rights to the novel in 1969 and turned it into an Academy Award-winning film—is seeking damages as well as an order to prevent Puzo’s estate from publishing “The Family Corleone,” a third sequel, in May.

Yesterday, Puzo’s son, Anthony Puzo, filed a countersuit against Paramount on behalf of the Puzo estate claiming the studio’s objection to the third sequel isn’t valid. The estate also claims Mario only received minimal compensation when he sold “The Godfather” rights to Paramount and that agreement did not include publication of future sequels to the original title.

"Mario Puzo brought vast wealth to Paramount at a time when they desperately needed it. Now that he's gone, Paramount's trying to deprive his children of the rights he specifically reserved," Bertram Fields, the Puzo family’s lawyer, said in a statement.

According to the counterclaim, "The Puzo Estate, representing the children of Mario Puzo, needs no permission from Paramount to use the title of their father's novel or to publish a sequel novel or to use what Paramount claims are 'the Godfather works'."

The countersuit seeks $10 million in damages.

 

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Cathleen Flahardy

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