Penthouse Bankruptcy Ends'Caligula', OMNI Trademark Suit

LOS ANGELES—One of the casualties of Penthouse Global Media’s bankruptcy auction on June 4 was its intellectual property lawsuit against Jerrick Ventures for the film rights to the 1979 classic Caligula and the OMNI trademark.

A California federal court on Wednesday ended that suit because Penthouse said its intellectual property was sold in the auction earlier in the week, according to a Law360 report.

The sale of the company’s assets, which has yet to be finalized, is expected to close this coming week, and Penthouse asked the court to dismiss the Jerrick case without predjudice, Law360 reported.

WGCZ Holding, based in Czech Republic, placed the final winning bid, which was $11.2 million for the entirety of Penthouse’s assets. It is unclear whether that amount exceeds the amount of Penthouse’s liabilities to its original lender and/or other potential liabilities connected to a civil suit it was fighting against a former company official. But due to the nature of the bankruptcy process, those debts are no longer owed by Penthouse, which entered Chapter 11 reorganization in January.

Law360 reported that a PGMI attorney said it could renew the lawsuit after the sale closes.

Penthouse published the science-themed magazine OMNI from 1978 to 1998. According to the report, PGMI in July 2017 sued Jerrick Ventures, claiming in 2013 it had purchased items previously owned by the late Penthouse founder Bob Guccione and was operating as it they had the IP rights, including for Caligula, which was made available online for a fee. The lawsuit also claimed Jerrick had used the trademark for OMNI; it filed claims against actor Jared Leto and his production company, Paradox LLC, alleging they made a deal with Jerrick to create a TV series under the OMNI name.

But Leto and Paradox were dismissed from the suit in November due to lack of evidence they actually used the OMNI mark, the report said.

Caligula was produced by Penthouse under the leadership of Guccione in the 1970s, and originally directed by Tinto Brass, who wanted the film to be a political satire. Brass was dismissed during editing by Guccione, and the film was afterwards re-edited from scratch, without Brass’ participation, as a drama containing pornographic scenes.  

Originally published at: https://avn.com/business/articles/legal/penthouse-bankruptcy-ends-caligula-suit-780589.html

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