‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ Remake Suit Lives to See Another Day in Federal Court

Steven T. Lowe

On February 26th, 2021, a California federal judge decided that the lawsuit over a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remake will not be sent back to state court after concluding that the suit contains copyright violations only a federal court can decide.

Filed on December 18th, 2020, the trust of Truman Capote, author of the 1958 novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” is based upon filed a lawsuit in state court claiming that Capote’s trust owns all rights to any film based on Capote’s story. The suit also alleges that Paramount Studios (makers of the 1961 critically acclaimed film) attempt to produce a remake or reboot of the film is not encompassed within the rights transferred to Paramount to make the original 1961 film.

Paramount removed the lawsuit to federal court, but Alan Schwartz, a trustee of Capote’s literary trust & plaintiff in this lawsuit, argued that it belonged back in State Court. Schwartz contended that the case does not belong in federal court because the dispute is really about contracts, not copyrights. However, California Federal Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. thought otherwise.

According to Judge Blumenfeld, Schwartz is asking for more than contract interpretation because the request for the court to declare that Paramount’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remake screenplay is derivative of Capote’s work implicates federal copyright law. For this reason, the battle for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” will remain in federal court.

Edwin F. McPherson of McPherson LLP represents the trustee of Capote’s estate.

Paramount is represented by David A. Grossman and Nathalie Russell of Loeb & Loeb LLP.

The case is Alan Schwartz v. Paramount Pictures Corp. et al., case number 2:20-cv-11470, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright law, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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