"You Can't Copyright Klingon" Means Paramount Is In Trouble

The 'Star Trek' lawsuit with Paramount and 'Axanar' takes a hilarious turn.

Inverse has been covering the long running lawsuit between a Star Trek fan film and Paramount Studios which has basically boiled down to a challenge to prove “what is or is not Star Trek being lobbed at the studio. Obviously, it is difficult to prove the “trekness” of elements spanning multiple universes and reboots, and even our specialists and internet fanatics couldn’t figure out what should happen here. In the final court move, Paramount filed 28 pages of documentation insisting that certain elements belong to Paramount. Among them: the Klingon language. Now, that’s about to become a problem.

See, the Language Creation Society filed an amicus brief claiming that Klingon is a real language and therefore not subject to copyright. To reiterate: the fandom of Star Trek elevated a language invented in 1984 by Marc Okrand for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to the point it is taught in colleges and spoken as a living language. So it isn’t Star Trek anymore: it is real.

Holy crap, Paramount must be pisssssssssssed.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

“This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate,” stated a plaintiffs’ brief authored by David Grossman at Loeb & Loeb. “The Klingon language is wholly fictitious, original and copyrightable, and Defendants’ incorporation of that language in their works will be part of the Court’s eventual substantial similarity analysis. Defendants’ use of the Klingon language in their works is simply further evidence of their infringement of Plaintiffs’ characters, since speaking this fictitious language is an aspect of their characters.”
Before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner gets a chance to rule on a motion to dismiss, he’s now being asked permission to review a friend-of-the-court brief from the Language Creation Society.

Hilariously, the entire legal brief is impossible to reprint due to limits in our non-Klingon font system, but even the motion includes Klingon-translated passages that accuse Paramount of being “arrogant” and “pathetic”.

This just gets better and better.

250,000 copies of the Klingon dictionary have been sold worldwide (including one to a 5th grade aged author of this post) there’s a lot of credit to be giving to this not being a copyrightable element of the Star Trek universe. Also, this of course opens up a lot of IP doors that creators from science fiction and fantasy are going to want to close immediately. Someone let George R.R. Martin know that Dothraki doesn’t belong to him if enough nerds start speaking it. He’ll love that.

Update: Paramount has filed an opposition to LCS’s motion for leave to file amicus, and and LCS has filed a reply.

View the entire court filing here. It is super goddamned worth it.

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