Comic Creators Claim Ownership Over Idea of Powered Suits of Armor, File Suit against Marvel
Now here’s a ridiculous lawsuit.
The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Ben Lai and Ray Lai, two brothers who run Horizon Comics Productions, have filed suit against Marvel. They allege that the Iron Man suits used in the movies ripped off designs from the Lai brothers comic, Radix:
According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday alleging copyright infringement and unfair business practices, the Lai brothers created in 2001 the comic book series Radix, featuring characters who "wear highly detailed, mechanized suits of body armor." They now see something too similar in the Iron Man films and its promotion.
Iron Man, featuring the superhero alter ego of Tony Stark, is based on a comic series created by Stan Lee in the 1960s.
The law allows new aspects of expression to be copyrighted so long as the authorship is sufficiently delineated and not a generic idea.
I do not know the words to express what utter horse manure this lawsuit is.
To start with, if the following image is a representative sample then Marvel didn’t copy any of the images from Radix:
Looking at the Radix covers I found via Google, at best Marvel picked up a few design ideas, which is not copyright infringement. And no, the "man crouching in powered armor" idea is not unique, either.
But even if Marvel did draw inspiration from the Lai brothers, they were not the first to write about soldiers fighting in powered suits of armor. That idea dates back to at least 1959, when Robert Heinlein used it in a little SF novel called Starship Troopers.
The novel’s most noted innovation is the powered armor exoskeletons used by the Mobile Infantry. These suits were controlled by the wearer’s own movements, but powerfully augmented a soldier’s strength, speed, weight-carrying capacity …
My point, folks, is that the Lai brothers did not come up with the idea themselves.
While the actual artwork and the stories told in the Radix comics are deserving of copyright, the same can’t be said for an idea which has been used a hundred times over the past 50 years.
What’s more, the lawsuit also makes misleading claims about the Iron Man armor.
The old comics of Iron Man depict the central character "wearing simple spandex-like attire and minimal armor," states the complaint, while the later films depict him "wearing a fully mechanized suit of body armor."
That is not even close to being accurate.
Over the past 50 years, the character Tony Stark has created dozens of Iron man suits. The earliest ones were simple, but as we get into the 1980s and 1990s the suits grow increasingly detailed.
This chart shows the progression of the suits:
I don’t know enough about Iron Man to say for certain which of these suits date before Radix (help me out?), but to call these suits "simple spandex-like attire and minimal armor" is just nonsense.
Unless some key detail was left out of THR’s story, this lawsuit is utterly without merit.