Before the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery was broadcast, there was a theory that the show was made using "Paramount's Kelvin Timeline License". I don't know who started it, but it started circulating on social media after the leak of the Nu Klingons. Fans said there were similarities between the JJ Klingons and the Nu Klingons. Others pointed out the lens flares and prolific Dutch angles in some of the promotional material. Then, some posted the fact that Alex Kurtzman was one of the producers and, shortly after this, social media posts about STDZ being "JJ Trek in disguise" started popping up. The YouTube channel Midnight's Edge made several videos spreading "rumors of dubious veracity" and now there is a group of Star Trek: Discovery detractors who are convinced that somewhere behind the scenes, the Bad Robot Production company (and,by extension, JJ Abrams) are behind all the decisions that made STDZ the show it is today. They believe there is a "Paramount Star Trek License" that is somehow influencing the show.
So, why bring this up? Well, a month or so ago, a privately operated (yet popular) Star Trek Facebook page banned the posting and sharing of Midnight's Edge videos. They were banned for "spreading unverifiable rumors and instigating vitriolic threads/responses". While I don't know about the "vitriolic threads" bit, they do like to spread the "Kelvin Contamination Conspiracy". Then, about a week ago, Midnight's Edge posted a "part one" video about the rights issues of Star Trek. It was basically a brief history of the ownership of Trek, which quickly ended with the assertion that Paramount had a "special license" to make their Trek movies, which were the Kelvin Timeline. Since I want this conspiracy to die in a fire, join me as we debunk this nonsense. Maybe one of the creators on Midnight's Edge will see this post before "part two" comes out, and they can stop saying stupid things.
At this point, it is unclear how much of the IP rights Paramount holds. When Viacom split into the CBS Corporation and Nu Viacom, it divided the rights to the Star Trek IP between CBS and Paramount. Up until recently, my investigations pointed to Paramount having the right to make any Trek movie it wants, but now it seems less clear than it was. What information is available, is fragmentary and broad, leaving it open to interpretation. What is certain, is that CBS remained the sole entity for marketing and licensing of the Star Trek product line for both the television as well as the movie properties. This is important, because Paramount cannot promote, market or merchandise a Star Trek movie without working with CBS. Specifically, CBS Consumer Products.
However, CBS does not have the rights to all of the concepts from the Bad Robot movies. In January 2011, License! magazine reported that CBS Consumer Products had deals for " Playmates Toys for action figures and accessories; Mattel for Star Trek-themed Barbie collector dolls; Tyco for flying radio-controlled vehicles; Scene It? DVD game; Radica for 20Q Star Trek trivia game; Pocket Books for a movie novelization; IDW Publishing for a comic book prequel "Star Trek: Countdown;" Fundex for customized versions of classic games UNO, Scrabble and All About Trivia; USAopoly for a Star Trek Continuum Collector's Edition; Vandor for gift items such as business card holders, salt and pepper sets, mugs, clocks and magnets; Funko for bobbleheads and vinyl figurines; Briefly Stated for adult sleepwear and loungewear; E.S. Originals for kids' footwear, bags and accessories; and AME for kids' sleepwear.".
Yet, CBS Consumer Products still had to work out licensing issues for products like our very own Star Trek Online: "until CBS/Paramount come to some sort of agreement over the new movies, we will not be able to add any items or references from the "JJ" movies. -Executive Producer Dan Stahl, in Ask Cryptic June 2011
Most of those issues seemed to be ironed out when CBS Consumer Products declared that the Bad Robot movies would be the "Kelvin Timeline". A June 2016 Tweet by Holly Amos, Product Development Coordinator at CBS Consumer Products, stated "we needed an in-universe term since we needed some way to refer to it in the encyclopedia". The name was credited to Michael and Denise Okuda, authors of the 50th Anniversary Star Trek: Encyclopedia.
It seems clear that Paramount does hold a copyright for some creative portion of the Bad Robot movies. In order for CBS to utilize this version of Trek, it would have to enter into another round of negotiations with Paramount/Bad Robot, then pay to use their intellectual property. It makes no sense to use any portion of the Kelvin universe in a CBS product. There is NO BENEFIT to CBS. NONE.
I have seen people refer to a tweet stating "the Enterprise had to be 25% different from the original", which these conspiracy theorists use as a "smoking gun" to prove their "Kelvin Contamination Conspiracy". Marketing research shows that millennials do not like "old stuff". It could just as easily have been the result of marketing, rather than "that Bad Robot license".
In any case, if anyone comes across more "proof" of the "Kelvin Contamination Conspiracy", feel free to post it and I would be happy to research (and probably counter) any evidence you come across.