In a battle that refuses to die, publisher Capcom filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against the Dawn of the Dead film owners as part of a dispute over patenting [sic] zombie action.
Capcom requested a declaratory judgment against MKR productions, because, according to a Hollywood Repoter blog, it expects MKR to file a lawsuit over Dead Rising in response to the game’s depiction of zombie fighting in a mall.
“Patenting zombie action”? Well, actually, the story The Escapist links to says, regarding the (ulp) February filing:
Capcom says that the concept of humans battling zombies in a shopping mall – something common to the game and the films – is “wholly unprotectable” under copyright law. It has filed the lawsuit in order to “eliminate any doubt” that its game infringes upon MKR’s rights.
That sounds about right, but it is an intriguing question. Copyright protects tangible expressions of creativity. Couldn’t particular zombie fightin’-and-killin’, er, zombie… moves be protected, the way choreography is?
Probably, but as the complaint explains — it also seeks declaratory judgment on about five different kinds of conceivable trademark claims — the assertion by MKR, or at least the one regarding which Capcom is seeking a declaratory judgment, is that the “concept” of zombies rampaging through a mall is the creative work claimed here. Well, heck, after all, the high symbolism of this only-slightly-weirder-than-reality conception is well recognized as a signal moment of cinematic social commentary. So, zombies-in-a-mall concept — copyrightable, right?
It’s probably in the public domain, anyway. Zombies have been ripping up shopping centers since, like, forever.
UPDATE: Zombies win, of course. They always do, don’t they?