Bloomberg News

Paramount, Puzo Agree to End ‘Godfather’ Lawsuit

December 21, 2012

Paramount Pictures Corp. and Mario Puzo’s heirs agreed to drop legal action that began when the movie studio sued “The Godfather” author’s estate to prevent the publication of a sequel to the novel about a Mafia family.

The parties voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit, according to a stipulation filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. No details of any settlement were given.

“The case is settled and we’re very happy about it,” Bertram Fields, a lawyer for the Puzo estate with Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, said in a telephone interview. “Because of the confidentiality provisions, I can’t disclose the terms of the settlement.”

Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc. (VIAB:US), sued Anthony Puzo, Mario’s son and the executor of his estate, in February to stop the publication of a new sequel to “The Godfather,” claiming it wasn’t authorized. The heirs countersued in April to cancel the contract between the studio and Mario Puzo.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in September denied the Puzos’ bid to terminate the agreement.

Paramount said in its complaint that after Puzo died in 1999, the company agreed to allow Bertelsmann AG’s Random House to publish one Godfather sequel, “The Godfather Returns,” which came out in 2004. The estate published another novel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” in 2006, without Paramount’s approval, the studio said. Paramount sued after the estate announced a plan to publish a third sequel, “The Family Corleone.”

May Publication

Robert Lawson, a spokesman for Paramount, said the company had no comment on the dismissal.

The sequel, written by Ed Falco, was published in May by Grand Central Publishing, a unit of Paris-based Hachette Livre SA. The terms of an interim settlement reached earlier this year between Paramount and Puzo stated that proceeds from the book would be put in escrow pending the outcome of the litigation, according to court papers.

Paramount claimed the Puzo estate infringed its copyright with the publication of the novel and infringed its trademark with the design of the book. Puzo’s heirs said in their countersuit that the contract between the late author and the studio gave him certain rights, including book publishing.

A notice was mailed to the U.S. Register of Copyrights to report the termination of the lawsuit, according to a court filing today.

The first “Godfather” film came out in 1972 and won the Academy Awards for best picture and adapted screenplay, for which Puzo shared the credit. Francis Ford Coppola directed the three “Godfather” movies.

The case is Paramount Pictures v. Puzo, 12-01268, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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