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Disney Sued Over Avengers, Guardians & Beauty and the Beast VFX

By Kevin Burwick — July 19th, 2017

Disney is in some legal hot water over the use of some special effects technology for Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, and the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. This is not the first time that Disney has been sued for using or taking something that does not belong to them. As recently as 2015 Disney settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money in a case that claimed that the Frozen trailer infringed on a short film. Now a visual effects company is claiming that Disney used stolen effects on some of their latest movies.

The Wrap reports Visual effects company Rearden is claiming that its MOVA Contour Reality Capture technology was stolen and that Disney contracted the criminals to get ahold of the technology and use it without permission. It is also being reported that Disney had contracted Rearden to use their technology for previous movies. As a result, Rearden is demanding an injunction prohibiting Disney from distributing Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Beauty and the Beast.

The latest lawsuit, which was filed on Monday July 17th, comes a year after Reardon won an injunction against two Chinese companies that had purchased MOVA and transferred it illegally to various Chinese firms. After that win, the visual effects were effectively frozen, meaning that Hollywood was temporarily not able to use Reardon's tech. A judge ruled that the use of the technology would only be able to be used again after the injunction had been lifted. It was known at the time that movies that were currently in production might not be able to use the MOVA technology, therefore dragging them into court for copyright infringement later on down the road.

Which brings us to the present where it is alleged that Disney effectively used stolen property to complete three of their current most successful movies. The lawsuit reads.

"(I)n all of the film industry and media accolades about the record-breaking success of Beauty and the Beast, and the acclaimed cutting-edge digital MOVA Contour technology that made the film's success possible, nowhere is it mentioned that the patented and copyright-protected MOVA Contour technology was stolen from its inventor and developer, Rearden LLC, and its owner Rearden Mova LLC,"

Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast is currently the highest grossing movie of 2017 so far, earning over $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office. There's no doubt that a lot of the movie's success is due to the spectacular special effects, most notably the use of motion capture. The lawsuit continues.

"Nowhere is it mentioned that although Disney had previously contracted with Rearden LLC and its controlled entities on four previous major motion pictures to use MOVA Contour and knew of a Rearden Demand Letter to one of the thieves demanding immediate return of the stolen MOVA Contour system, Disney nonetheless contracted with the thieves to use the stolen MOVA Contour system."

The lawsuit is seeking damages for copyright, patent, and trademark infringement. And as stated earlier, the suit is aiming to prohibit Disney from distributing Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Beauty and the Beast. Disney has yet to make an official statement to respond to the claims.

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