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Warner Bros. To Face Trial In $1 Billion Conjuring Lawsuit

This is scary news for the lawyers at Warner Bros.

Deadline reports that a federal judge has decided that the $1 billion copyright infringement suit filed against the studio will go to trial. 

Author Gerald Brittle claims that Warner Bros. based the horror franchise on his 1980 book The Demonologist, which tells the allegedly true stories of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. 

Brittle alleges The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 and the Annabelle movies infringe on his exclusive rights to create works based on the Warrens' cases. He said the couple agreed to a no "competing work" provision in 1978 that prohibited the Warrens from contributing to any works based on the "same subject" as The Demonologist, specifically their "lives and experiences" as paranormal investigators.

"This case will move forward as to the copyright claims, the business conspiracy claim, and the tortious interference with contract claim against New Line and Warner Bros," ordered U.S. District Judge John Gibney, rejecting the studio's attempts to have the matter dismissed. It looks like it'll go to trial before a Virginia jury on April 16, 2018.

"The Court declines the parties' invitation to wade into the truth or falsity of the Warrens' paranormal escapades or to parse the resulting similiarities between the works at this stage of the case," Judge Gibney also noted in his order. "This type of analysis, which bears on evidence presented and factual determinations, is better suited for summary judgment or trial."

However, there was some good news for people other than Brittle. Director James Wan, screenwriters Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, RatPac-Dune Productions, and Time Warner were removed as defendants. 

Although Brittle didn't specify a monetary amount in his latest complaint, he wants whatever he can get from the $1 billion worldwide box office the franchise has made during the past four years.

A few months back, Brittle's lawyer had this to say: "It is very hard to believe that a large conglomerate such as Warner Brothers with their army of lawyers who specialize in intellectual property rights deals would not have found The Demonologist book or the deals related to it, or Brittle for that matter.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens in the movie series. According to the complaint, Brittle's attorneys sent a cease and desist to defendants before the release of The Conjuring 2, but the studio claimed the films weren't based on The Demonologist but on historical facts.

However, the attorney said there aren't many true facts in the Warrens' stories. "Lorraine and Ed Warren's claims of what happened in their Perron Farmhouse Case File, which the Defendants freely and publicly admit their The Conjuring movie was based on, does not at all jive with the real historical facts. This is a pattern of deceit that is part of a scheme that the Warrens have perpetuated for years... There are no historical facts of a witch ever existing at the Perron farmhouse, a witch hanging herself, possession, Satanic worship or child sacrifice."

Meanwhile, Wan recently provided an update on The Conjuring 3.