International Media Films filed suit against Lucas in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan accusing the gay content producer of infringing on its copyright and trademark for the 1960 Federico Fellini film “La Dolce Vita.”
The lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to stop sales of the movies, “Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita” parts 1 and 2, and to collect unspecified damages.
Lucas released the two films by the same title last year, although he pointed out that the title of the two movies are different because his name appears as part of the title in his version.
“My movie features different characters, situations and a different title,” Lucas said in response to the suit. “Before even investing so much of my company in this movie, I had consulted with lawyers about it in order to avoid violating any laws.”
The New-York-based International Media Films said Lucas’ movie infringes, tarnishes and dilutes its trademark in the Fellini film.
“Will someone confuse my version from Fellini’s? Absolutely not,” Lucas said. “They are sold in ifferent places. You will never see my movie at Barnes & Noble, and you will never see their movie at the adult video stores that sell mine. Even looking at the box covers side by side, you would hardly confuse me with Marcello Mastroianni, and the half-naked kissing guys around my image also will not confuse [anyone] to think that this is a mainstream production.”
Lucas also said that he finds the lawsuit “homophobic” because a straight Italian production used the title “La Dolce Vita” in 2003 but didn’t get sued.
In the end, Lucas believes the suit has no merit and was merely a publicity maneuver by International Media Films. A number of mainstream media outlets like the New York Post and Wall Street Journal have picked up the story since it broke.
La Dolce Vita was released over 40 years ago, “its director and most of the stars are long dead. And now, it is getting enormous free publicity — something I know something about,” Lucas said.
International Media Films acquired the rights to the Fellini film in 2001. The movie won the 1961 Academy Award for costume design and the New York Film Critics Circle gave it the award for Best Foreign Film of that year.
The Fellini film, which follows the life of a tabloid journalist, is most famous for introducing the word “paparazzi” into the lexicon.