A potentially devastating lawsuit has been filed against Paramount Pictures, alleging that the studio had already lost its rights to Top Gun and that the new sequel is a copyright violation.
The claim was brought today in federal court in California by Shosh and Yuval Yonay, the heirs of writer Ehud Yonay, whose tale “Top Guns” in the April 1983 edition of California magazine served as inspiration for the original 1980s Tom Cruise film.
His tale revolved around pilots and their personal experiences, such as a hotshot flying nomad named “Yogi” and his radio intercept officer. The suit claims that Paramount licensed the magazine piece within weeks of its publication.
The Yonays are exploiting a provision of copyright law that allows authors and their heirs to reclaim rights granted to publishers and studios after waiting 35 years. According to the suit, as well as copyright records I’ve reviewed, a termination notice claims to have recovered rights to the “Top Gun” story on Jan. 24, 2020. (Production was completed in 2019, and the film was originally slated to hit theaters in 2021, before the Covid pandemic delayed the release. The timing may become important as the lawsuit plays out.)