Ben and Ray Lai, the founders of Horizon Comics and the comic “Radix,” filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Marvel saying the superhero suit worn by Iron Man illegally copies their work.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, names as defendants a series of Marvel and Disney enterprises and also makes claims of unfair and deceptive business practices.
The lawsuit states that “Shortly after Radix’s release, the Lai brothers submitted their work in Radix to Marvel, and were hired by Marvel as artists, on account of that work. In the films, which followed a few years later, the traditional depiction of the protagonist in Marvel’s comic books, ‘Iron Man,’ radically changed.”
(Read or download the full court filing here)
Back in 2002, Horizon Comics issued a cease and desist to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claiming the university used its images to win a $50-million research grant.
The university issued a public apology to Lai and Horizon Comics saying it “regretted” the use of the image and was unaware that it had been “derived from another source.”
Soon after, Marvel reached out to the Lai brothers and brought them on to work on various titles. It was at this time the Radix material was seen by key personnel at Marvel.
“As the complaint clearly illustrates, Iron Man’s appearance changed dramatically after Radix was published,” notes Paul Sennott, who along with Jeffrey Wiesner, is representing Horizon Comics in this matter. “It is our client’s contention that this is no coincidence.”
Iron Man was created in 1963 by Stan Lee. According to the lawsuit: “From that time until the first movie in the franchise was released, the comic typically depicted Iron Man wearing simple spandex-like attire and minimal armor.”
Yet in the Marvel movies, the superhero’s suit took the shape of full body armor from head to toe, eliminating other material.
The federal lawsuit also draws attention to the marketing material used to promote the films, claiming a likeness to additional Radix material in the promotional movie posters used for “Iron Man 2” and “Iron Man 3.”
“Iron Man 2,” released in May of 2010, grossed over $623 million worldwide. “Iron Man 3,” was released in May of 2013, and grossed $1.2 billion globally, making it the 5th highest grossing film of all time.
Marvel’s latest movie, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which includes Iron Man, is set to be released on May 1.
The Chinese-born Lai brothers founded Horizon Comics in 1995. Since then, the brothers have worked on some of the most renowned comic book series including Marvel’s “X-Men” and “Thor” and Hasbro’s “G.I. Joe.”
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SOURCE: Horizon Comics
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