IMAGE COMICS Creator Sues KIRKMAN & FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Producers Over Copyright Infringement

Fear the Walking Dead
Credit: AMC

Comic book writer Mel Smith has filed a copyright infrigement lawsuit in California's federal court alleging that portions of the second season of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead were "copied" from Smith's Image Comics series Dead Ahead, according to Deadline. Smith is suing The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Kirkman's limited liability company, Skybound Productions, Circle of Confusion Productions, David Alpert (Skybound CEO/partner and Circle of Confusion partner), Valhalla Entertainment, and AMC Networks in the lawsuit.

Credit: Alex Nino/Moose Baumann (Image Comics)

"This is a civil action for copyright infringement of protected elements of plaintiff’s three-volume comic book series entitled Dead Ahead, and for breach of fiduciary duty with respect to same, which defendants copied and subsequently used, performed and exploited without permission in the television series Fear the Walking Dead," reads the filing. "Within the last three years, defendants, and each of them, infringed plaintiff’s copyright in Dead Ahead by, among other things, broadcasting or otherwise exploiting the second season of Fear the Walking Dead. Portions of that season’s 13 episodes were copied from plaintiff’s copyrighted literary work Dead Ahead."

Dead Ahead was originally published by Image back in 2008, with a collection released in 2012. Kirkman's The Walking Dead has been published by Image since 2003, and in 2008 Kirkman became a co-owner/partner of Image Comics, as well as its Chief Operating Officer.

Dead Ahead concerned a group of people on a boat during a zombie plague. Fear The Walking Dead's second season begins with the zombie plague survivors fleeing on a boat for safety.

Smith also alleges Alpert and Circle of Confusion are in breach of fiducary duty, acting as agents for Dead Ahead but "engaging in a pattern and practice of self-dealing, placing his own interests ahead of the interests of his principal and client, wrongfully depriving plaintiff income from the use and exploitation of Dead Ahead, including the ideas embodied therein, and using his principal’s and client’s intellectual property to enrich himself."

Alpert allegedly "failed both to preserve his confidential communications with plaintiff and to disclose to plaintiff the conflict inherent in his business and creative involvement with the other named defendants."

Smith lawsuit asks for a judgement awarding him unspecified compensatory damages, profits from the use and exploitation of Dead Ahead, punitive damages, prejudgment interest, and "such other and further relief as equity and justice may require."

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