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Denver IP Attorney Zachary S. Al-Tabbaa for IP Watchdog - Heirs to Author of Article That Inspired Top Gun Crash and Burn in California District Court

IP Watchdog

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Commenting on the case, Zachary S. Al-Tabbaa of Hall Estill said, while it may seem surprising at first due to the clear association between the sequel and the original film, “that’s not the case here and the reasoning makes sense.” Al-Tabbaa added:

“This case serves as an example for current rights-holders - if your characters, plot, theme, etc. derive from real individuals, narratives, occurrences, or locations, there’s a genuine risk that you may, and probably will, be excluded from a sequel.

In terms of its broader implications for Hollywood, this ruling signifies another victory for filmmakers and another setback for writers. The key takeaways here revolve around content and expert witness testimony: regarding content, writers must recognize the real possibility that their stories, serving as original source material, may not entitle them to ongoing recognition if substantially based on real individuals, facts, events, locations, etc.”

Al-Tabbaa also said the dismissal of Yonay’s expert witness was a “tipping point” in the case and is a lesson to ensure that the testimony of expert witnesses is solid and admissible.


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Founded in 1966 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hall Estill is a full-service law firm with clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to traditional family businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurial start-ups and individuals. More than 150 legal professionals work in the firm at offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Denver and Northwest Arkansas, assisting a diversified base of local, regional, national and international clients.

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