MOVA Contour Reality Capture, the inventors of the Oscar-winning motion picture technology is in the process to suing Disney and Marvel and accuse them of infringing the inventors’ intellectual property while using stolen technology to make at least two of their highest grossing motion pictures to date namely Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).
The intellectual property lawsuit that was filed on July 17 alleges that the defendants knew that the proprietary technology they used was owned by Rearden LLC and Rearden Mova LLC, the plaintiffs in the action and that the company supplying the technology to Disney and Marvel had stolen it from a secured storage facility.
The MOVA Contour technology has been used in films to capture some of the most subtle facial performances from actors such as Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk in The Avengers, Daniel Radcliff and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 and 2 among many other blockbuster movies.
The software output permits VFX studios to project captured facial performances onto CG faces bringing the computer generated characters to life.
Disney had contracted with Rearden to use the MOVA Contour system in four films as the owner of the MOVA Contour copyrights, patents, and other proprietary technology, which includes its patented computer program, arc-shaped Contour camera and lighting rig, synchronized cameras at multiple angles, and specially-mixed phosphor-based makeup used to capture thousands of control points on the actor’s face.
A Chinese company called Shenzhenshi, affiliated with DD3 then appeared on the scene claiming to have bought the MOVA Contour technology and to have licensed it to DD3.
In 2013, “LaSalle had access to the secure storage facility where the physical MOVA Contour apparatus was kept, and assisted DD3 in taking the patented MOVA Contour physical apparatus and copies of the copyrighted Contour Program,” according to the lawsuit.
DD3 then began secretly offering MOVA Contour facial performance capture services to major motion picture studios and production companies, including defendants.
Disney went on to use the MOVA Contour capabilities for Beauty and the Beast, the tenth-highest grossing movie of any rating of all time and the highest-grossing PG-rated film of all time.
The suit seeks all just and equitable patent, copyright, and trademark remedies on behalf of the inventors and owners of the MOVA Contour systems and methods. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, brings claims of infringement of five of Rearden’s patents, copyright infringement, and trademark infringement for allegedly using stolen intellectual property of the MOVA Contour system and using the patented technology and photos of its generated output to promote films.
Source: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP