March 2016. Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios can’t claim copyright over the Klingon language, Vulcan’s pointy ears, or Phaser weapons, a court heard this week. Earlier this year Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios filed a lawsuit against the makers of the Star Trek inspired fan-art project called Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar, accusing them of copyright infringement. The dispute revolves around the well-received short film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and the planned follow-up feature film Anaxar.
The Anaxar project is an idea from Alec Peters who started working on it half a decade ago. The short film turned in to a massive hit and the follow-up feature raised more than $600,000 on Kickstarter alone. That’s a serious budget for a fan-art project and the success prompted the attention of both Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios, who filed their complaint at a California federal court last December.
The official Star Trek copyright holder claims ownership over various Star Trek related settings, characters, species, clothing, colours, shapes, words, short phrases and even the Klingon language. Axanar productions and Alec Peters argued that words and short phrases such as names, titles and slogans can’t be protected. This includes the popular phrase “beam me up” as well as several Star Trek related names. In addition, Axanar productions points out that Paramount and CBS can’t claim ownership of the Klingon language, which is nothing more than an idea according to the defendants.