A Connecticut man has sued Sylvester Stallone, accusing him of copyright infringement with respect to the 2010 military film The Expendables.
The Expendables lawsuit claims that plaintiff Marcus Webb wrote and registered The Cordoba Caper in 2006. Both scripts allegedly tell the story of a team of mercenaries sent to dethrone a dictator named General Garza.
Webb has asked for unspecified damages, and seeks to stop production of The Expendables 2, which is due for release in August 2012.
Court papers claim that Webb shopped his script around Hollywood between 2006 and 2009, reports Reuters. It was made widely available to those in the industry.
He believes that Stallone and co-writer David Callaham had access to the script, and copied its plot and content. This includes the name of the main villain and an opening sequence, according to the Times-Picayune.
Stallone, the production company Millennium Films, and distributor Lionsgate have yet to comment on the Expendables lawsuit. But chances are they will claim that Stallone and Callaham never saw Webb's script.
This is because independent creation is a complete defense to copyright infringement. If an individual independently and coincidentally creates a duplicate of a copyrighted work, there is no infringement.
Stallone and his co-writer may be responsible for proving this fact, or the responsibility may fall to Webb. But as it stands, the two scripts appear to be incredibly similar, making it much easier for Webb to disprove independent creation.
This argument will almost certainly be at the center of the Expendables lawsuit should it reach the trial stage. But knowing Hollywood, it'll probably settle before it gets that far.