Law School Case Brief
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. v. Am. Honda Motor Co. - 900 F. Supp. 1287 (C.D. Cal. 1995)
A preliminary injunction may be granted if the moving party shows either (1) a combination of probable success on the merits and the possibility of irreparable harm, or (2) the existence of serious questions going to the merits, the balance of hardships tipping sharply in its favor, and at least a fair chance of success on the merits. In essence, this test requires looking at two key elements in deciding whether an injunction should issue: the relative merits of the claim, and the relative harms to be suffered by the parties.
Plaintiffs Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq, owners of registered copyrights to several James Bond films, sought to enjoin Defendants American Honda Motor Co. and its advertising agency Rubin Postaer and Associates from running a commercial for an automobile, which plaintiffs alleged infringed their copyright in the films by intentionally copying specific scenes from them and infringed their copyright in the James Bond character as delineated in those films. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs did not own exclusive rights to the character, any similarities between films and defendants' commercial were not protected by copyright, and there was no substantial similarity between copyrighted works and defendants' commercial.
Were copyright owners entitled to a preliminary injunction enjoining certain television commercials?
Plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief was granted and defendants' motion was denied. Plaintiffs established the probability of success on the merits; they had acquired a copyright to the James Bond character from their copyright ownership of the film series and defendants' commercial was substantially similar in terms of theme, plot, mood and characters. The court held that irreparable harm would be presumed due to plaintiffs' likelihood of success on a copyright claim.
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