A key early ruling in the dispute between MGM Inc. and Sony Corp. over the James Bond film franchise appears it will be in MGM's favor.
U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie indicated Monday in Los Angeles that he is inclined to order Sony to halt development of a rival Bond film, according to representatives of both studios.
Though the trial date is not until Dec. 15, this decision--expected to be formally issued as soon as today --could indicate the direction the suit might take. MGM filed suit against Sony in November 1997, seeking $25 million and the establishment of sole ownership by MGM of the $3-billion Bond franchise.
MGM has accused Sony of copyright infringement, unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets. The latter allegation is linked to the fact that Sony Pictures Entertainment President John Calley was formerly an executive at MGM, where he became familiar with that studio's plans for the Bond films.
The dispute began when Sony announced in October 1997 that it had signed a deal with author Kevin McClory, the producer of the Bond pictures "Thunderball" and its sequel, "Never Say Never Again." Sony and McClory contend that McClory has the right to produce additional pictures featuring the James Bond character.
MGM says it has the exclusive rights via its arrangement with Danjaq Productions, which is controlled by the children of longtime Bond producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.