Neil Gaiman blogs on win over Todd McFarlane in court over Spawn

The saga continues with a Federal Judge ruling on Friday in favour of Neil Gaiman. He blogged about it on his site as per the below:

This evening I got an email from my lawyers in the Todd McFarlane case (quick! If you have no idea what I am talking about, or if you are writing something about the case, read this first: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/06/despatches-from-alternate-universe.html. It’s short and explains everything. Did you read it? Okay…) and attached to the email was this pdf file.

The PDF file is Judge Crabb’s ruling on the matter that Todd wanted brought back before the court — the question of accounting for the characters that Todd felt weren’t even a bit derivative, and which I thought were not just derivative of the characters I had created for him, but in one case, actually was the same character I’d created with Todd originally. In her ruling Judge Crabb said, yes, she thought so too…


The two characters are similar enough to suggest that either Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn
is derivative of Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn or it is the same character to which plaintiff owns
the copyright.

Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains
why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from
the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn “rule” that Malebolgia never
returns a Hellspawns to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years,
as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4), it suggests that what defendant really wanted to
do was exploit the possibilities of the knight introduced in issue no. 9. (This possibility is
supported by the odd timing of defendant’s letter to plaintiff on February 14, 1999, just
before publication of the first issue of Spawn The Dark Ages, to the effect that defendant was
rescinding their previous agreements and retaining all rights to Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn.)

If defendant really wanted to differentiate the new Hellspawn, why not make him a
Portuguese explorer in the 16th century; an officer of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, an
idealistic recruit of Simon Bolivar in the 19th century, a companion of Odysseus on his
voyages, a Roman gladiator, a younger brother of Emperor Nakamikado in the early 18th
century, a Spanish conquistador, an aristocrat in the Qing dynasty, an American Indian
warrior or a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I? It seems far more than coincidence
that Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn is a knight from the same century as Medieval (Gaiman)
Spawn.


More at Neil Gaiman’s blog.

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