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The name is Bond. James Bond. And he's arguably the most recognizable character in film history. The dapper British agent also has been involved in so much litigation over the 35 years of his cinema life that it makes "Bleak House" look like a short story.
But this time Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the now-beleaguered studio that has distributed 18 Bond films, is engaged in a bet-the-company litigation to preserve its most valuable asset, while Sony Corp. is mounting a broad-based challenge to the franchise.
Leaving no doubt what the stakes are, Sony counsel Lou Meisinger of Troop, Meisinger, Steuber & Pasich says, "The core question is whether Sony can make Bond motion pictures. The answer to that question is clearly yes."
At the heart of the dispute are the so-called McClory rights - rights that have been around for 35 years and have served as the basis for two Bond movies.
But no one has ever claimed that they could serve as the …