IRON MAN 3 Copyright Lawsuit Moves Forward

Radix comparison to Iron Man 3 poster
Credit: Horizon Comic Productions / Marvel Studios

A lawsuit alleging that Marvel Entertainment borrowed elements of its Iron Man 3 poster from a 2001 creator-owned comic book is moving forward in the United States judicial system. New York District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken has issued an opinion that the above Iron Man 3 is similiar enough to Ben and Ray Lai's Radix illustration to be tried in court. Oetken specifies several elements - the hairstyles, the use of blue light, the suit's coloring - as the key similiarities between the two designs.

"This is not a case where only non-copyrightable elements exist in the work, nor is it one where the Court can conclude, at this stage, that 'no reasonable jury, properly instructed, could find that the two works are substantially similar' based on their 'total concept and overall feel.'” said Oetkin in his published opinion.

At the same time however, Oetken struck down another lawsuit by Lai's Horizon Comics Production that alleged that Iron Man as a "highly mechanized suit of armor" in live-action entertainment borrowed from the pair's 2001 creation. The judge agreed with Marvel's claims that the armor and "fighting pose" are unprotectable and uncopyrightable, as they are common - particularly in comic books and the superhero genre.

"The boots have completely different colors (Radix: blue and gray; Iron Man: red and gold); the heels appear to differ (Radix: heel with spur; Iron Man: gold square near ankle); the top-foot is of a totally separate nature (Radix: angular and receding into the shin cover; Iron Man: gold and protruding from the toe box); and the toe boxes are differently sized and shaped (Radix: rounded and covers only the toes; Iron Man: boxier and covers more of the foot)."

The Lais lawsuits were originally filed April 2015 in Massachusetts' courts, but was moved to New York after it was rejected due to jurisdiction.

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