updated 7/11/2006 8:53:26 AM ET 2006-07-11T12:53:26

A Japanese court rejected a request by a unit of Paramount Pictures to halt sales of bargain-priced DVD releases of movie classics such as "Roman Holiday," Kyodo News reported Tuesday.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that the copyrights to the movies in question had already expired and the company rereleasing them in DVD format was not required to stop their sales, the report said.

Court officials refused to confirm the report, saying it was a nonpublic case.

Paramount Pictures Corp. filed the injunction request with the court in May against one of several Japanese companies producing and marketing DVDs at a bargain price, according to news reports. The English name of the Tokyo-based bargain-price DVDs was not immediately available.

Many versions of such DVD movie classics are priced as low as 500 yen ($4.40) in Japan, an eighth of the cost of Paramount's price of 4,179 yen ($36.70).

Paramount originally released the titles in 1953 and the legal dispute involved a question over whether the releases, with patents originally protected for 50 years, became public property at the end of 2003, thus allowing resale by manufacturers and distributors at bargain price.

Judge Makiko Takabe ruled that the titles released in or before 1953 with 50-year patent protection are not covered by the 2004 law and thus their patents had expired at the end of 2003, rejecting Paramount's claims that their products are subject to patent protection for 20 more years under the new law, Kyodo said. 

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