Supreme Court won’t review copyright fight over Paramount’s ‘What Men Want’

Cars enter and exit the Paramount Pictures gate
The Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The studio has been in a legal fight with writer Joe Carlini over the movie “What Men Want.”
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t weigh in on a copyright fight over the Paramount Pictures movie “What Men Want.”

The decision brings to an end at least part of author and screenwriter Joe Carlini’s multiyear fight with the Los Angeles-based studio over a script he co-authored and alleged the movie was based on.

Carlini sued Paramount in 2019 in a California district court for copyright infringement and unfair competition, alleging his 2014 script “What the F is He Thinking” was the basis of its 2019 romantic comedy featuring Taraji P. Henson.


His copyright claim was dismissed last year, with Paramount arguing that “What Men Want” was a sequel to its 2000 movie “What Women Want,” which featured Mel Gibson, and that his script wasn’t registered until 15 years later.

Carlini lost his appeal on the copyright decision to the 9thDistrict Court in March. And on Monday the Supreme Court said it would not review the case.

While copyright infringement cases are common in Hollywood, it’s rare for such disputes to reach all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Roger Behle, an attorney for Carlini, said the author’s state law claims were going forward.

Representatives of Paramount Pictures and Will Packer Productions could not be reached for comment..

To allege copyright infringement, Carlini had to sufficiently allege unlawful appropriation and copying, District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr., said in his ruling earlier this year.


“The district court correctly concluded that Carlini failed to allege unlawful appropriation,” he said. As part of his decision, he ruled that the plots of the two scripts were not similar.

While both works follow a woman who develops the ability to hear mens’ thoughts, the plots were significantly different in other respects , he said. In “What Men Want,” the protagonist is navigating career struggles, while Carlini’s work focused on two people in relationships with the wrong person.

Last month, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss Carlini’s unfair competition claims, according to court filings. A hearing will be held on the motion later this month.