Beatty, in response, has sued the Chicago-based company for $30 million, saying Tribune violated a complex agreement regarding the Tracy rights.
Under the 1985 agreement, Beatty took control of the Tracy character from Tribune but was required to give it back at the company's request under several conditions and following a two-year notification process.
Beatty gave the rights to The Walt Disney Co. and in 1990 starred in and produced "Dick Tracy" for Disney. The film, which featured Tracy's catch phrase "I'm on my way," made more than $100 million.
In 2002, according to Beatty's lawsuit filed Friday in Superior Court, Tribune took back control of Tracy and notified Disney — but not through the process outlined in the agreement.