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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Studios row over Zorro copyright
The Legend of Zorro
Zeta Jones and Banderas star in The Legend of Zorro
A film company wants a court to rule that Sony Pictures does not have the sole right to the character Zorro.

Sony produced 1998 hit movie The Mask of Zorro and is making a sequel, once again starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

But Sobini Films wants to produce its own movie about the legend based on a 1919 book it has acquired rights to.

Sobini says Sony sent it a cease and desist letter, which effectively shut down production on its film.

'Kiss of death'

Now it is suing Sony in the US District Court in Los Angeles, seeking a judge's ruling that the conglomerate does not own exclusive rights to Zorro.

"Once Sony sent us that letter, it's kind of like the kiss of death," said Sobini's lawyer Bruce Isaacs.

"What we're asking the court to declare is that Sony-TriStar does not have exclusive rights to Zorro, whether it be via the copyright road or via the trademark road."

Sobini contends it acquired the rights to Johnston McCulley's book The Curse of Capistrano, in which Zorro was first introduced.

The company wants to make to make a futuristic film with the masked avenger set in 2110.

A Sony Pictures spokesman declined to comment on the legal action.



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