Paramount Lawsuit For Top Gun: Maverick Is Moving Forward Despite Networks Best Efforts

The copyright infringement Top Gun: Maverick lawsuit is moving forward.

By Jennifer Asencio | Published

A judge has ruled that plaintiffs in a civil suit against Paramount Pictures have a valid complaint. Deadline reports that the copyright infringement claim regarding Top Gun: Maverick will be heard and that the movie giant’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit was not granted. The ruling was handed down Wednesday in response to the motion filed on August 26.

The Top Gun copyright infringement lawsuit was filed in June by the widow and son of Ehud Yonay, who wrote an article in 1983 upon which the original Top Gun was inspired. Paramount bought the option to turn this article, which followed two “top guns” in a naval training program, into the Tom Cruise classic we know and love today. Yonay was also mentioned in the credits of the 1986 action film.

tom cruise paramount top gun lawsuit

In 2018, correspondence between Paramount and Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of the author of the article, confirmed that the terms of the agreement between Ehud Yonay and the studio would be expiring on January 24, 2020, which would revert the rights to the article back to the Yonay family. The plaintiffs claim that Paramount did not re-secure the rights to use the article for a second Top Gun movie and filed the lawsuit to assert their claim. They are suing for damages and seeking an injunction against the distribution of the movie to theaters, this last being largely a gesture now that Top Gun: Maverick has completed its theatrical run.

Top Gun: Maverick was released on May 27, 2022, and has grossed $1.5 billion worldwide, but Paramount claims the movie was finished before January 24, 2020. They also claimed that the movie fell under a part of the agreement that excluded derivative works. They further pointed out that Top Gun is an actual navy training facility and that the Yonays do not have “a monopoly” on what is said about the school just because Ehun Yonay wrote about it once.

While all these things may be true, the judge had plenty of evidence to consider, including a copy of the 1983 article and a DVD of Top Gun: Maverick to assist with the ruling to proceed with the lawsuit. This clash of copyrights between the writer’s family and the movie studio has enough merit, according to the court, to be examined judicially. Regardless of when the movie was completed, the Yonays assert that the use of the article for the first film means they should have also been consulted before the sequel was made.

Paramount is sticking to its “top guns” in this lawsuit, claiming that there is a significant difference between the movie and the article. They claim that any similarity between the two works comes from both being about the same topic and that the personalities populating the Top Gun movies are not the same as “Yogi” and “Possum,” the two pilots profiled in Yonay’s article. They have vowed to continue the fight and defend their movie.

Top Gun: Maverick was extremely well-received, with an 8.4 out of 10 on IMDB and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the movie is available for streaming rental, and purchase on digital and physical media, Paramount has not yet released it on its subscription streaming service. However, Paramount announced that the new Top Gun movie would be available for streaming in the fourth quarter of 2022, so it would seem the delay is unrelated to the lawsuit.