Montreal comic creators sue Marvel and Disney

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This article was published 05/04/2021 (331 days ago), so the information it contains may no longer be up to date.

MONTREAL — When Montreal-based comics company founders Ben and Raymond Lai watched the 2018 Marvel movie ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ they said they knew they had to sue Marvel Entertainment — again. Once.

The Lai Brothers, founders of Horizon Comics Productions, say the armor worn by Iron Man in the film looks too much like the outfit worn by Maxwell, a character they developed for their Radix comic book series in the early ’90s. 2000.

A Lai Brothers character, Caliban, is shown in this image courtesy of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. When Montreal-based comic book company founders Ben and Raymond Lai watched the 2018 Marvel movie “Avengers: Infinity War,” they knew they had to sue Marvel Entertainment – again. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Horizon Comics Productions*MANDATORY CREDIT*

“After years of litigation and substantial sums of money, they continue to copy our characters,” Raymond Lai said in a statement to The Canadian Press. “It is causing us significant damage and impacting our ability to earn a living as artists. Obviously, this repeated behavior cannot be accepted.

The brothers sued Marvel Entertainment and its owner, The Walt Disney Company, in 2013. They claimed the outfit worn by Iron Man in a poster for Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” looked too much like a costume for another Radix character. , Caliban. The brothers, however, lost this case.

Ben and Raymond Lai say Marvel copied their designs again. And their lawyers say they have a case because the brothers’ claims involve new Marvel costumes in different Marvel movies.

On April 22, lawyers for the Montreal comics company filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court against Marvel Entertainment and Disney for alleged copyright infringement. They say Marvel’s Ant-Man, Wasp, and Iron Man characters have body armor that’s surprisingly similar to the clothes they created for their superheroes.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages that have not yet been disclosed, and they are asking the court to issue a permanent injunction against Marvel and Disney to “terminate this willful and persistent infringement,” according to the lawsuit.

Several interview requests to Marvel and Disney were not returned. Not all of the Lai brothers’ claims have been proven in court.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin’s Julie Desrosiers, one of the brothers’ attorneys, says the alleged similarities between her client’s work and Marvel characters are causing a lot of headaches. She said that when Ben and Raymond Lai present their work to the public, people often think they’ve copied Marvel.

“It’s the other way around,” she said in a recent interview.

The brothers started their comic book company in 1995. In 2001 and 2002, they released a three-volume comic book series titled Radix.

“It was with Radix that we first gained recognition and recognition for our work in the American comic book industry,” Raymond said in the statement. “We made a name for ourselves”

Around March 2002, Marvel editor Chester Bror Cebulski approached the Lai brothers for their unique and highly futuristic designs – but they turned down the offer, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said that around the same time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology copied artwork from the Radix series for a $50 million research grant to create what is now the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

MIT issued a public apology to the Lai brothers, however, acknowledging the unauthorized use of images, the lawsuit said.

“We have decided not to take legal action against MIT because they have publicly apologized and acknowledged their error,” Raymond wrote. “But with Marvel, it’s repeat counterfeiting.”

The brothers’ company rose to prominence with the MIT controversy and was once again approached by Marvel. In September 2002, the brothers agreed to join a new creative team and worked on Marvel’s Thor and X-Men comics, according to the lawsuit.

In the brothers’ failed 2013 case against Marvel, Judge Paul Oetken of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that there was no infringement due to the “characteristics distinctions between characters.

But according to the new lawsuit, the distinctive traits previously identified to justify the rejection of the brothers’ claims no longer exist in the new superhero outfits created by Marvel. The suit alleges that “several striking similarities exist between the new Iron Man suit depicted in Infinity War and the suit worn by Radix Maxwell’s character.”

“In sum, not only are the distinguishing features raised by Judge Oetken in the US proceeding no longer present in the Infinity War suit, but several other features strikingly similar to the Radix suit have been added.”

The brothers say that Marvel and Disney are “deliberately” creating costumes that resemble their character Radix “knowing that Horizon’s means to defend its copyrights were scarce.”

“This behavior is oppressive, malicious and highly reprehensible,” the lawsuit said. “It offends the public’s sense of decency.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 4, 2021.

Lisa M. Horner