A federal judge has declined to rule, for now, on the question of whether or not Buck Rogers is in the public domain.  Federal District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted a defense motion to dismiss by the Dille Family Trust, the owner of the rights to Philip Francis Nowlan’s novel Armageddon 2419 A.D., in which the character originated.  

The case was filed by Team Angry Filmworks to get a ruling on whether or not a film based on the novel, which the production company announced at San Diego Comic-Con last year, would infringe on any rights. 

Conti said in her dismissal that she could not rule on the complaint filed by producers Team Angry Filmworks against the Dille Family Trust because the complaint failed tests for “immediacy” and “reality;” there was no deal to actually begin a film production, the potentially infringing activity on which Team Angry had asked Conti to rule.   

Team Angry could re-file the case within 60 days, perhaps with some additional documentation from Warner Bros. and Sony, both of which it said had expressed interest in financing the film.  But in the meantime the status of the rights to the character, which Team Angry believes passed into the public domain in 1956, remains unadjudicated.  One of the two beneficiaries of the Dille Family Trust, Robert Dille, is a screenwriter on the project, tangling the outcome further.