Scariest Moment in The Godfather: Horse Head in the Bed Scene vs. Recent Copyright Lawsuit against Mario Puzo’s Estate

Scariest Moment in The Godfather: Horse Head in the Bed Scene vs. Recent Copyright Lawsuit against Mario Puzo’s Estate

If you've never seen The Godfather, then you won't know the horse head scene. Basically, a character turns down a request from the Godfather, Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), and, as punishment, finds the head of his racehorse in his bed.

The scene is disturbing and frightening but maybe not as much as waking and finding Paramount Picture's copyright complaint on the adjacent pillow.

Paramount to Put the Kibosh on Godfather Novel

On February 17th, Paramount Picture sued the estate of Mario Puzo, seeking to protect its copyright in The Godfather trilogy. Paramount is accusing the estate of publishing an unauthorized novelization of The Godfather.

According to the complaint, Paramount, in 1969, purchased Mario Puzo's copyright interest in The Godfather novel. Thereafter, Paramount adapted the novel into the famed movie trilogy.

Paramount alleges that in 2002, it authorized the Puzo estate to grant "Random House the right to publish one (but only one) 'Sequel Novel' to The Godfather." In 2004, pursuant to the parties' agreement, the estate published The Godfather Returns. However, according to the complaint, the Puzo estate didn't stop there:

In 2006, without Paramount's knowledge or authorization, the Puzo Estate published a second sequel novel, entitled The Godfather's Revenge, which received mediocre reviews and suffered weak sales. Far from properly honoring the legacy of The Godfather, the unauthorized The Godfather's Revenge tarnished it, and in the process, also misled consumers into believing that The Godfather's Revenge was authorized by Paramount, or otherwise affiliated with or connected to The Godfather and Parmount's Godfather franchise.

The Puzo Estate has now publicly announced, and has informed Paramount, that in 2012 it intends to publish without Paramount's authorization a third sequel novel, entitled The Family Corleone.

Putting a Hit Out on Puzo's Logo Infringement

Paramount not only asserts its copyright, it also asserts its trademark in the "world-famous Godfather logo:"

According to the complaint:

The Puzo Estate, without Paramount's permission, used the Godfather Marks on the covers of the first and second sequel novels. The Puzo Estate also used the Godfather Marks in connection with advertising, marketing, and promotional material related to the first and second sequel novels. On information and belief, the Puzo Estate intends to use the Godfather Marks in connection with the advertising, marketing, and promotion of the third sequel novel. 

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