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"Umbrella Academy" villain lawsuit filed in Texarkana federal court settled by Netflix

Jun 9, 2022

Netflix has settled a case filed against them last year in Texarkana, Texas in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

According to a court filing in East Texas federal court on Wednesday, a copyright lawsuit brought by artist Kevin Atkinson against Netflix Inc. and Dark Horse Comics LLC has been settled. Atkinson accused the companies of ripping off his fish-tank-headed character in the television series and comic book series "Umbrella Academy."

The Eastern District of Texas is a favorite venue for patent lawsuits and copyright claims because of the speed with which it handles these types of cases. It is often referred to as the "Rocket Docket." The cities of Marshall and Texarkana, Texas are two of the cities where many cases are filed.

Atkinson originally sued last year in Texarkana, claiming A.J. Carmichael from "Umbrella Academy" was based on a character he created for Rogue Satellite Comics in 1996. Carmichael's Kingfish and Atkinson's Kingfish have talking fish antagonists that appear like humans in bell jars.

Additional details were not immediately available due to the sealed notice of the settlement. Attorneys for both parties say the deal is confidential. A request for comment from several media outlets was not immediately responded to by Netflix, Dark Horse, or their attorneys.

After failing to prove that comic creator Gerard Way had access to Atkinson's work, the court dismissed his lawsuit for a second time last month.

As Atkinson has argued, Way, who is famous as the lead singer of the rock band My Chemical Romance, has come into contact with Kingfish through numerous avenues, including his relationship with comics and employment at a comic store. According to District Judge Robert Schroeder, Atkinson's allegations are too speculative to demonstrate that Way knew his work.

At that time, Schroeder noted that he would give Atkinson one more chance to file an amended lawsuit.

Last year, the court concluded that the characters in the case were similar enough to justify continuing the proceedings.

The case is known as Atkinson d/b/a Rogue Satellite Comics v. Netflix Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 5:21-cv-00079.

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