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'The Conjuring' conjures up intellectual property dispute

This summer, California horror film fans might go see "The Conjuring," a film based on the allegedly true tale of a famous pair of paranormal investigators and the haunted house that gave them their biggest test.

That film is now the subject of a intellectual property dispute.

The issue here is that Evergreen Media, which produced the film for New Line, also struck a deal with rival film studio Lionsgate to produce a TV series also based on "The Conjuring." Evidently, that television series will also be called, "The Conjuring."

From what we know of this dispute, it seems New Line isn't taking Evergreen to task for using the same content or general basis for both the movie and the possible television show. Since we have not seen the documents the two parties signed, we cannot say for sure, but it is possible that this is because New Line never obtained exclusivity with regard to the underlying story of "The Conjuring."

So, New Line is attacking the possible TV series by arguing that by having the same title as the feature film, it is violating the trademark New Line holds on the phrase "The Conjuring" as it is used in the context of the movie.

This is an interesting tactic. Titles are not protected by copyright because they are usually too general, so by turning to trademark law instead of copyright law, New Line is hoping it has a stronger position and a more compelling legal argument.

As of now, it does not seem that this intellectual property dispute will hold up the release of the film "The Conjuring," but it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact it has on the potential television show.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "New Line Claims 'Conjuring' Partner Committed Trademark Fraud," Eriq Gardner, June 25, 2013

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