The lawsuit between German license trader Intertainment and US producer Franchise Pictures may be delayed for another year, after the planned August 5 court case between the two companies was unexpectedly postponed by a Los Angeles judge.

Federal District Court judge Alicemarie H. Stotler did not give any reasons for the postponement, apart from saying that the decision was "based on the court's own motion". She also asked the parties involved to agree within a week to a new trial date for March, April, May or August 2004.

This is the third time that the trial has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for summer 2002, then set for November 19, 2002 under the new judge Stotler before she herself pushed the trial date back to August 5, 2003.

News of the trial's postponment hit Intertainment's share price hard on the Frankfurt stock market. During trading on Tuesday 15, the company's shares fell by over 40% to under Euros3. Analyst Tobias F. Bosler, writing in financial business service Der Boersendienst, commented: "Due to the renewed uncertainties as to when the trial will now actually take place, how it will then end and whether Franchise can pay the damages at all, we urgently advise against any new commitments and recommend to put the [Intertainment] shares up for sale".

"We deeply regret the decision of the judge", said Intertainment's CEO Ruediger Baeres. "It is totally incomprehensible why such an important process has been postponed for the third time."

Intertainment is now considering taking further legal steps against the renewed postponement of the main proceedings.