Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Claims Stallone Stole Screenplay on the Sly

Sylvester Stallone is certainly a tough guy on screen, but how will he fare in the courtroom? The action movie star is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit related to the screenplay of his popular film “The Expendables.”

The lawsuit was filed last week in Manhattan federal court by writer Marcus Webb. He claims the screenplay for “The Expendables,” a movie about mercenaries hired to defeat a military dictator, is “strikingly similar and in some places identical” to his work entitled “The Cordoba Caper.”

According to the lawsuit, Webb registered “The Cordoba Caper” screenplay and a short story with the same title and plot with the U.S. Copyright Office in June 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, Webb widely circulated the screenplay for consideration in the movie industry.

“There can be no dispute that Stallone and/or [co-author David] Callaham had access to and copied protectable elements of the screenplay,” the lawsuit alleges.

The copyright infringement complaint details the apparent similarities between Webb’s screenplay and the released movie. It states that the main villain in both is a General Garza, a military dictator with a notorious human rights record. In addition, it contends both the movie and the screenplay open “with a hostage rescue at sea, off a foreign coast, which has nothing to do with the main plot.”

As a result of the alleged infringement, Webb claims he has been deprived of benefits from the screenplay such as potential earnings from the production, distribution, and performance of “The Expendables.”

He seeks unspecified damages for copyright infringement and an order from the court stopping further infringement in any sequel by Stallone, his credited co-author David Callaham, Millennium Films, its Nu Image Films unit, and Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation.

“Expendables 2″ is due for release on Aug. 17, 2012.

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