AXACON schedule released – and I need YOUR questions for J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and ALEC PETERS!

The first-ever AXACON is less than three weeks away, and ALEC PETERS has just released the schedule.  It’s a pretty busy weekend, filled with all kinds of activities and panels…most of them focused on AXANAR (both past, present, and future), but also a few opportunities to expand beyond just one fan film.

Here’s a look at some of the things that will be going on:

FRIDAY

  • A set tour of OWC Studios (including photo ops on the USS Ares bridge)
  • A reading from the full 90 minute version of the Axanar movie script (featuring J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Alec Peters, and Steven Jepson)
  • Socialize at the bar with the actors and Axanar team (donor funds will NOT be used to pay the bar tab!)

SATURDAY

  • The Top 10 Star Trek fan films (at least in our opinion…and we don’t all agree!)
  • J.G. and Gary talk about their time on televised Star Trek
  • An Axanar UPDATE with Alec Peters and director/co-writer Paul Jenkins
  • Alec discusses how the Honor Harrington novels influenced Axanar
  • A special Axanar donor lunch with the actors and production team
  • Axanar fan fiction with three people who are writing/drawing/animating it
  • Alec and Paul discuss the evolution of Axanar from story to screenplay
  • The Axanar fleet – designing cool starships from 20 years before TOS
  • A preview of upcoming Star Trek fan films
  • Klingon kostuming…er, costuming
  • The Axanar project from a fan’s perspective
  • Everyone hits the bar again, including J.G. and Gary

SUNDAY

  • Starship combat in the Axaverse (when did we start calling it that?)
  • J.G., Gary, and Alec discuss working on Prelude to Aanar and plans for the remaining two Axanar films
  • When fan films become professional independent films…what does the future hold?
  • Alec discusses James T. Kirk’s hero: Garth of Izar, and Steven Jepson discuss the infamous “Admiral Scaredy”: Conrad Slater
  • Axanar trivia…with PRIZES!

As you can see, a lot of careful consideration went into filling this mini convention with diverse content while still keeping it centered around Axanar.  I think the organizers did an excellent job with that.

They also scheduled me to host five panels and appear on an additional three…for a total of EIGHT panels in THREE days!  Oy.  But in one of those panels, I have to interview J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, and Alec Peters about their work on Prelude and plans for the two upcoming Axanar films.  And that’s where I need YOUR help…

Continue reading “AXACON schedule released – and I need YOUR questions for J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and ALEC PETERS!”

AXACON adds more guests – TICKETS now available!

Things are beginning to get very exciting when it comes to AXACON, the “con-within-a-con” that is happening during the first weekend of November in Atlanta, GA.

In the last few weeks, some major new guests were added, and last week, tickets finally went on sale.  The guest list now includes GARY GRAHAM (who plays Ambassador Soval in AXANAR) and J.G. HERTZLER (who plays the surly Admiral Sam Travis in AXANAR)—both of whom are veteran television Star Trek actors—along with tribbles creator DAVID GERROLD.

Other announced guests include director/co-writer of the upcoming Axanar sequel fan films PAUL JENKINS, editor/sound designer MARK EDWARD LEWIS, art directors LESS QUESSENBERRY and ALEXANDER RICHARDSON, STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater from Prelude to Axanar), and of course, writer/executive producer/Garth of Izar himself ALEC PETERS.  There’s also a growing number of notables from the fan film community including Stalled Trek creator MARK LARGENT, Chasing the Infinite Sky creator ALBERT J. MARTINEZ, Axanar fan artist MARK PAYTON, and your favorite Fan Film Factor blogger JONATHAN LANE.

Also announced is that Axacon ticket holders will be invited for a Friday tour of OWC Studios in Lawrenceville, GA, where the Ares bridge set is located.  Guests need to provide their own transportation to and from the studio, which is about 40 minutes from the hotel.

Tickets for the event can now be purchased.  Note that these are “add-on” tickets, meaning that a ticket for Axacon (either $25 or $50) can only be purchased AFTER you first buy a ticket for SphinxCon (which is a separate $50 ticket).  SphinxCon, a convention celebrating the Honor Harrington book series, is happening at the same location and is acting as the “host” convention (meaning they are paying the main expenses for the hotel facilities).  Axacon is happening in a special area of the convention open only to Axacon ticket holders.

The event will be taking place at the  Crowne Plaza – Atlanta Airport (free shuttle from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) on November 2-4, 2018.

Click here to purchase tickets for Axacon.


And come back tomorrow for a surprisingly candid interview with J.G. Hertzler discussing his recent political campaign, his haircut, and whether or not he’ll be appearing in the Axanar sequel films!

Oh, the answers I boldly got…about the DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up! (interview with GLENN HAUMAN)

Have you ever given a few bucks to a street performer?  Maybe it was a guy juggling bowling balls while riding a 10-foot high unicycle…or a woman playing seven different musical instruments at the same time.  The reason you might drop a few coins or dollars into their hat is that these folks entertain you.  They’re talented, and they use those skills to bring some fun and joy into your day…and maybe show you something you probably don’t get to see very often (if ever).

What does any of this have to do with the proposed Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! illustrated book mashing up Star Trek with Dr. Seuss?  As you probably know, an infringement lawsuit was filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) against creators DAVID GERROLD, TY TEMPLETON, and ComicMix, which intended to publish the book.  (To learn more about the lawsuit, read my latest update from a couple of weeks ago.)  Recently, ComicMix launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help pay the costs for their legal defense.

Obviously, the goal of Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! is to bring some joy and fun into YOUR day…entertainment for Trek fans that will certainly never happen if the verdict in this lawsuit goes against ComicMix and “Team Mash-up.”  But to make things even more entertaining, ComicMix’s own GLENN HAUMAN wrote the whole GoFundMe description ENTIRELY IN RHYME.  (Seriously, check it out…it’s pretty amazing!)

But Glenn’s not done rhyming yet…!

Continue reading “Oh, the answers I boldly got…about the DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up! (interview with GLENN HAUMAN)”

Has the STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS mash-up lawsuit become a CHESS GAME? (update)

Last time, I discussed the new GoFundMe campaign implemented by ComicMix, LLC to assist in paying legal fees associated with an infringement lawsuit filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) back in late 2016.  The lawsuit has been a very active one, with 13 notices, 14 motions, 7 responses, 6 replies, 28 judicial orders, and 1 amended complaint (so far)…and the date of trial isn’t until next spring!  The lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy…which is mainly why this lawsuit is costing so much.

Things are going well for both sides at the moment, and it’s far from clear how this lawsuit will turn out once it goes in front of a jury (assuming it doesn’t settle, which isn’t looking likely at present…but who knows, right?)

Most recently, Hon. Judge Janis Samartino of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego made two very significant rulings that will likely have a major impact on this case.  One was clearly a win for the defense (“Team Mash-up” as I call them) and was actually covered by The Hollywood Reporter (and other media outlets) two months ago with the headline: “‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Creator Beats Trademark Claims.”  That made it almost sound like the case was over.  Not even close!  The “victory” by Team Mash-up was only partial, albeit important.  I’ll explain that shortly.

Then last month, another ruling came down striking 11 affirmative defense claims that Team Mash-up intended to use to argue their case.  That’s the legal equivalent of taking 11 arrows away from an archer going into battle who only has 37 arrows to begin with.  So this time, it was a victory for the plaintiff…although, again, only a partial one.

This lawsuit—a very important case  that could set a significant precedent in the emerging art form of the “mash-up”—has turned into a fascinating game of chess.  And as I’ve done before on this blog, I’d like to translate all the boring legalese into enjoyable English so you folks who are interested can get a layperson’s update on this fascinating case.

Continue reading “Has the STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS mash-up lawsuit become a CHESS GAME? (update)”

Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly GoFundMe!

Mash-up mess-up!  Seuss sues!  Tricky Trekkies find fans to fund!

…or at least that’s the short form of the story so far.  As I’ve covered in a series of blogs over the past year, copyright and trademark precedent is being made right under our very noses, and Star Trek is right smack dab in the middle of it!  But this time, it’s not a fan film in the thick of things but an unpublished attempt to mash-up Star Trek and Dr. Seuss into a fun (but allegedly not entirely allowable) illustrated book intended to be titled Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!

Written by Star Trek‘s own DAVID GERROLD (creator of the tribbles) and illustrated by TY TEMPLETON (Eisner award-winning mainstream comic book artist), this project was going to be crowd-funded through Kickstarter and managed to raise $30,000 in September of 2016.  But Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) asserted their intellectual property rights, and Kickstarter elected to shut down the campaign.  On November 10, DSE sued Gerrold, Templeton, and ComicMix (the company running the campaign) for both copyright and trademark infringement.

It’s now nearly two years later, and this case is nowhere near done.  In fact, the trial isn’t scheduled to begin until next spring, and the lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy (more on that tomorrow)!  But in the meantime, the legal bills are piling up.  This isn’t as much of a problem for DSE, which makes money every time someone buys Green Eggs and Ham or The Lorax, not to mention royalties on all the movie remakes of classic Seuss stories.  ComicMix, on the other hand, is a much smaller company…and apparently, their cash bucket isn’t nearly as deep.  And unfortunately, unlike a certain fan production we all remember, ComicMix didn’t find attorneys willing to work for free.

And so ComicMix has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $25,000 goal.  So far, they’ve managed to get about 9% of the way there.

“Why is this worth donating to?” you ask.  I’ll tell you…

Continue reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly GoFundMe!”

DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 2)

Yesterday in part 1, we discussed the copyright side of the infringement lawsuit that was filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) against Star Trek “Tribbles” creator DAVID GERROLD and comic book artist TY TEMPLETON for their proposed “mash-up” book Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!  The project generated $30,000 in a Kickstarter that was promptly shut down (and the donations frozen) when DSE asserted their ownership of the Dr. Seuss property.  A lawsuit quickly followed in late 2016 accusing the mash-up creators and their publisher ComicMix of both copyright AND trademark infringement (two different things, as I’ll explain shortly).

It’s now a year later, and a whole flurry of legal posturing has been going on back and forth…before the trial even gets started!  During the summer, Judge JANIS L. SAMMARTINO of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego dismissed the trademark complaint portion of the lawsuit, leaving only the copyright claim to adjudicate.  And even there, it looked like the judge was leaning strongly in favor of accepting a fair use defense from “Team Mash-up” (as I like to call them) and dismissing the rest of the case, as well.

But DSE was not about to go gently into that good night!  And after pulling out all the legal stops, and after a court hearing at the end of last month, Judge Sammartino just issued an Order Denying Motion to Dismiss that not only allowed the copyright portion of the lawsuit to continue and go to trial, but DSE lawyers also convinced her to CHANGE HER MIND and reinstate the trademark complaint!

How the heck did that happen???

Yesterday, I explained the reasons that the judge didn’t grant a fair use defense on the question of copyright infringement.  Today, we’ll take a look at the trademark side of things and discover why we can blame Godzilla for the judge’s decision to resurrect the trademark question…

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 2)”

DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 1)

If you’re Star Trek “Tribbles” creator DAVID GERROLD and comic book artist TY TEMPLETON, one of the places you’ll boldly go next year will be to the Ninth Circuit federal courtroom!

Actually, they and their lawyers have already been spending a good deal of time in front of Judge JANIS L. SAMMARTINO… defending themselves from a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit filed by DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE) against them and publisher ComicMix in late 2016.

At issue was a “mash-up” project combining elements of Star Trek with the whimsical rhyming and artistic styles of the late Dr. Seuss into a book titled Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!  In September of 2016, a Kickstarter for the project took in $30,000.  However, DSE quickly asserted their intellectual property rights, and Kickstarter promptly shut down the campaign and froze the pledged donations.  Then things went to court.

Earlier this year, the situation looked somewhat hopeful for “Team Mash-up,” as I like to call them.  The judge in the lawsuit dismissed the trademark claim entirely (it would no longer be a part of the lawsuit), and she said that the fair use aspect of the remaining copyright infringement complaint was “evenly balanced” between the plaintiff and the defendants.  And even better than that, if DSE couldn’t prove to the judge’s satisfaction that there were real financial damages at stake (at that point, she was simply giving them the benefit of the doubt), then this lawsuit might be dismissed entirely before it ever saw a jury, and fans would likely be reading a Star Trek/Dr. Seuss mash-up book by next Christmas.

What a difference six months make!  This infringement lawsuit suddenly reminds me of a famous football game from 1993 between the Houston Oilers and the Buffalo Bills that has become known as “The Comeback.”  Houston was leading by a massive score of 28-3 at halftime.  But by the end of the game, Buffalo had won in overtime 41-38.

And while the “game” in this mash-up lawsuit isn’t over just yet, if you’re a fan of David Gerrold and Ty Templeton (as I am), it’s suddenly nail-biting time.

Here’s the latest…

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 1)”

DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK: What happens next? (Part 3)

Feel free to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already.  This time, we’re going to look at is the state of the Dr. Seuss/Star Trek “mash-up” lawsuit as it stands right now.

Initially , there were three legal complaints filed by the plaintiffs, Dr. Seuss Enterprises:

  1. Copyright infringement
  2. Trademark infringement
  3. Unfair competition

Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court dismissed the second and third complaints, leaving only the copyright infringement claim as the lawsuit…and that one was “nearly perfectly balanced” based on the “fair use” defense.

But the judge did give the plaintiff a “second chance” to get those two dismissed claims back.  She gave them two weeks to file an amended complaint that might change her mind about dismissing trademark infringement and unfair competition.

The plaintiff did, indeed, re-file an Amended Complaint.  Not surprisingly, the defendants then filed a new Motion to Dismiss.

The plaintiff wants their two dismissed claims back.  The defendant would like to keep those two claims dismissed and, if possible, dismiss the final copyright claim and end the lawsuit completely.

Will either side succeed?  Let’s take a closer look…

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK: What happens next? (Part 3)”

DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK: A “near-perfect balancing” of FAIR USE factors! (Part 2)

Last time, we began looking at the intriguing case of the Dr. Seuss/Star Trek “mash-up” book Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! by DAVID GERROLD and TY TEMPLETON.  Last November, they got sued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.  The defense quickly filed a motion to dismiss the case.  After a brief extension, the judge issued a ruling last month.  (For more details, read yesterday’s blog.)

The motion to dismiss centered around the “mash-up” being protected as “fair use.”  And while judges do not usually rule on fair use this early in a case, the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino of the 9th Circuit Federal Court did (again for reasons explained in yesterday’s blog).

So did the fair use defense work or not?  What did the judge say???

In short, it’s a tie.  She called it a “near-perfect balancing of the factors” of fair use.  And what does that mean?  Get comfy, folks, ’cause Jonny’s gonna do his best to break this down into layperson’s English for you all…

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK: A “near-perfect balancing” of FAIR USE factors! (Part 2)”

DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK “Mash-Up” files new MOTION TO DISMISS! (Part 1)

Last week, I wrote a blog about what is rapidly becoming the second biggest copyright infringement lawsuit involving Star Trek in the last year.  But this time it isn’t CBS and Paramount doing the suing, it’s Dr. Seuss Enterprises.  And the target isn’t a fan film but rather a “mash-up” book that takes the characters, settings, and concepts of Star Trek and presents them in a style inspired by (the plaintiffs say “slavishly copied from”) the classics of Dr. Seuss.

The authors of the mash-up, entitled Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!, include Star Trek “The Trouble with Tribbles” writer DAVID GERROLD and award-winning comic book artist TY TEMPLETON.  Together with their publisher, ComicMix, they were sued last November for both copyright and trademark infringement, along with unfair competition, by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the owners of all the works of Dr. Seuss.  This lawsuit is seeking $150,000 in damages per infringement (of which there were multiple instances provided in the filing), for a potential judgment in the MILLIONS!  And all of this for a small, grass-roots book project that took in only $30,000 in a Kickstarter last September (pledged money that is now being held by Kickstarter pending the outcome of this case) and has never been published.

(If you’re wondering how the non-publication of a book could cost the copyright owners millions of dollars in damages, well, sit tight.  We’ll get to that in part 2.)

Anyway, last month, the judge in the case, the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino of the 9th Circuit Federal Court (yeah, the same court where the Axanar case was filed—but a totally different judge), made a series of significant pre-trial rulings.  Among these were the dismissal of the trademark infringement and unfair competition portions of the complaint and declaring that the fair use defense was valid but still “too close to call” (my words, not hers) due to a lack of evidence of financial harm.

Many thought the case was pretty much over, but it wasn’t.  So what happens now?

If you’re thinking this is gonna be another one of Jonathan’s long legal blogs, you’re probably right.  But I’ll be walking you through it in helpful layperson’s English…and I guarantee you’ll come out of it much better informed.  Ready?

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK “Mash-Up” files new MOTION TO DISMISS! (Part 1)”