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Stallone did not copy screenplay for "The Expendables": judge

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge has reaffirmed his decision to dismiss a lawsuit accusing actor Sylvester Stallone of copying someone else's screenplay to make his popular 2010 movie "The Expendables."

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan on Thursday rejected claims of copyright infringement damages by Marcus Webb, who contended that the movie's screenplay contained 20 "striking similarities" to his own "The Cordoba Caper."

Webb claimed that both works had similar plots, and involved hired mercenaries in a Latin American country that was home to a villain dictator named General Garza.

But Rakoff said no reasonable juror could find that the works were so similar as to eliminate the possibility that Stallone crafted his screenplay on his own.

Not even the general's name was an automatic red flag, Rakoff said, writing that "Garza" was the 34th most common Hispanic nickname in the United States.

"The court has carefully examined the entire litany of plaintiff's proffered 'striking similarities' and finds none of them remotely striking or legally sufficient," Rakoff wrote. "These are two very different screenplays built on a familiar theme: mercenaries taking on a Latin American dictator."

Other defendants in the case included Nu Image Films, which produced the movie, and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, which distributed the movie in the United States.

Lawyers for Webb did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"The Expendables" was released in August 2010, and featured other older action stars like Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A sequel, "The Expendables 2," was released in August 2012.

In June, Rakoff decided to dismiss Webb's case [ID:nL2E8HQA93] but did not provide his reasons until Thursday.

Stallone also starred in the "Rocky" and "Rambo" movies.

The case is Webb v. Stallone et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-07517.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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