‘Top Gun: Maverick’ copyright lawsuit dismissed

Paramount sued in 2022 by heirs of author who published 1983 article that inspired film

Paramount Studios secured a win after it faced a copyright lawsuit in 2022.

Ehud Yonay's 1983 magazine article inspired the original "Top Gun" film that was released in 1986. After the sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," was released in 2022, Yonay's family hit the network with a lawsuit, alleging that Paramount failed to renegotiate a new license before creating the film. 

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson for the Central District of California dismissed the case on Friday and said the article and the sequel film are "largely dissimilar," per the Hollywood Reporter.

Tom Cruise in the film "Top Gun: Maverick"

Paramount Studios defeated the copyright lawsuit against the Tom Cruise-led "Top Gun: Maverick." (Paramount Pictures / Fox News)

The elements of "Maverick," including plot, theme, setting and dialogue, did not overlap with Ehud's 1983 article, according to the judge.


A Paramount Pictures spokesperson shared a statement with Fox Business following the lawsuit being dismissed: "We are pleased that the court recognized that plaintiffs’ claims were completely without merit," the statement said.

Marc Toberoff, the plaintiff's attorney, also shared a statement with FOX Business after the ruling: "We respectfully disagree with the ruling, particularly on summary judgment, and will exercise our right of appeal to the 9th Circuit," Toberoff said.

"Once Yonay's widow and son exercised their rights under the Copyright Act to reclaim his exhilarating Story, Paramount hand-waived them away exclaiming ‘What copyright?’ It’s not a good look," he added.

Tom Cruise Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise played Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick" from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. (EPK / Fox News)

The lawsuit, which was filed by Shosh and Yuval Yonay, alleged that Paramount's rights to the article ended in 2020. The family also said that filming for "Top Gun: Maverick" was not completed until May 8, 2021.

However, Paramount has reportedly said the film was "sufficiently completed" before its rights to the original article were terminated.

The family sent a cease-and-desist letter to Paramount on May 11, 2022, weeks before the release of "Top Gun: Maverick," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Original Top Gun

The family of Ehud Yonay had a deal with Paramount Pictures ahead of the original "Top Gun," which was released in 1986. (Getty Images)

"This case arises out of Paramount’s conscious failure to re-acquire the requisite film and ancillary rights to the Yonays’ copyrighted Story prior to the completion and release of their derivative 2022 Sequel," wrote attorney Toberoff and former federal appellate judge Alex Kozinski, who are representing the Yonays.


Paramount denied the sequel is derivative from the original article, according to the outlet.

"These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously," a spokesperson for Paramount told Fox News Digital at the time of the lawsuit.

"Top Gun: Maverick" premiered in May 2022 after two years of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. The film pulled in $160.5 million in the first four days. "Top Gun: Maverick" stayed afloat its second weekend, bringing in $86 million.

Tom Cruise in a black shirt and blazer smiles on the carpet for "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One"

"Top Gun: Maverick" was a career-best for lead star Tom Cruise. (Lisa Maree Williams / File / Getty Images)


The film also marked a career-best for Cruise, who had not had a film opening exceed $100 million in the first weekend.

FOX Business' Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.