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Supreme Court of California
June 28, 1956 ; June 28, 1956
L. A. No. 23892
[*723] [**260] [****435] Plaintiff appeals from a summary judgment rendered against him in this action to recover the reasonable [***2] value of a literary composition, or of an idea for a photoplay, a synopsis of which composition, embodying the idea, he asserts he submitted to defendants for sale, and which synopsis and idea, plaintiff alleges, were accepted and used by defendants in producing a photoplay.
The case as presented to us is perplexed by manifold problems, some of which appear only upon a composite view of the pleadings, the evidence, and the briefs on appeal. Among the questions are these: Is the plaintiff seeking to recover for (a) the conveyance 1 of an abstract idea or (b) the sale [*724] of a literary property? Or (c) is he clutching at both theories? (d) Does plaintiff's evidence tend to show an express or implied contract or (e) facts from which the law might impose a so-called quasi-contractual obligation, as to either the idea or the synopsis? The ultimate question is (f), Does the record permit the conclusion that there is no triable issue of material fact pertinent to any tenable theory available to plaintiff?
[***3] To answer the above listed questions with any substantial degree of confidence requires statement of the factual substance of the record, explanation of the nature of the judgment appealed from and the rules governing our consideration of it, together also with some discussion of the law of ideas, the law of literary property, and the law of contracts as it relates to transactions concerning ideas and literary property, with definitive recognition of the somewhat differing situations to which, as descriptive of the “contract” or obligation, some authorities apply the terms “express,” “inferred,” “implied in fact,” “implied-in-law” or “quasi-contractual,” and the significance of the subjective and objective tests in determining contractual existence under the several possibly pertinent theories.
After threading the maze, we have concluded, for reasons hereinafter stated, that the summary judgment in favor of defendants was erroneously granted and should be reversed.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
46 Cal. 2d 715 *; 299 P.2d 257 **; 1956 Cal. LEXIS 226 ***; 110 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 433 ****
VICTOR DESNY, Appellant, v. BILLY WILDER et al., Respondents
Prior History: [***1] APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County and from an order denying motion to set aside the judgment. Stanley Mosk, Judge.
Action to recover the reasonable value of plaintiff's story used in a photoplay by defendants.
Disposition: Judgment affirmed in part and reversed in part; appeal from order dismissed. Summary judgment for defendants reversed with directions as to one count of the complaint; affirmed as to other counts.
synopsis, composition, producer, photoplay, contracts, conveyed, promise, literary property, conveyance, disclosure, terms, summary judgment, implied-in-fact, literary composition, promise to pay, public domain, writers, words, reasonable value, dramatic, parties, literary, circumstances, defendants', inferred, script, plot, property right, literary work, trier of fact
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Supporting Materials, Affidavits, Judgments, General Overview, Burdens of Proof, Motions for Summary Judgment, Opposing Materials, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Preclusion of Judgments, Law of the Case, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contract Formation, Consideration, Mutual Obligations, Sufficient Consideration, Acceptance, Contracts Law, Offers, Personal Property, Scope of Copyright Protection, Ownership Rights, State Regulations, Copyright Law, Protected Subject Matter, Limited Protection for Ideas, Antitrust & Trade Law, Intellectual Property, Ownership & Transfer of Rights, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Express Contracts, Ownership Interests, Enforcement of Promises, Audiovisual Works & Motion Pictures, Television Broadcasts, Contracts Implied in Fact, Meeting of Minds, Quasi Contracts, Evidence, Procedural Matters, Objections & Offers of Proof, Objections, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Express Conditions, Types of Evidence, Documentary Evidence, Parol Evidence, Moral Obligations, Real Property Law, Deeds, Validity Requirements, Enforceability, Remedies, Equitable Relief, Literary Works, Scope of Protection, Governments, Courts, Common Law, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings, Rule Application & Interpretation, Variances Between Pleadings & Proof, Amendment of Pleadings, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Appealability, Relief From Judgments, Altering & Amending Judgments, Appellate Jurisdiction