SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The heirs to a Los Angeles screenwriter who co-wrote the original story behind “The Pink Panther” movie lost their claim to the copyrights in the 9th Circuit.
In 1962, Maurice Richlin co-wrote a story involving a bumbling inspector named Jacques Clouseau, who is “famously unable to crack the simplest of murder cases,” the court wrote. Richlin assigned all rights in the treatment, including copyright and copyright renewal rights, to MGM Pictures. The studio used the storyline for the smash-hit “The Pink Panther,” released in 1963.
The Richlin heirs now claim the right to renew copyrights in the treatment and all derivative works, including the Pink Panther movie.
Judge Wardlaw wrote, “While Inspector Clouseau searched for the answer to the question, ‘Who did it?’, we must search for the answer to the question, ‘Who owns it?'”
The judges decided that the studio was the rightful owner, because Richlin neither copyrighted the treatment, nor co-owned or co-wrote the Pink Panther movie.
Though Richlin’s heirs argued extensively for the copyrights, “they have not quite stumbled on a theory that favors them,” Wardlaw concluded.