Federal Jury Sides With Author Neil Gaiman Against Todd McFarlane and the McFarlane Companies
MADISON, Wis., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Neil Gaiman, author of the New York Times best-selling novel American Gods and creator of the immensely successful Sandman comic book series, has won his federal court suit against Todd McFarlane and his companies. McFarlane, best known for his three million-dollar investment in Mark McGuire’s 70th homerun baseball, created the SPAWN comic book franchise.
The case centered on Gaiman’s creation of three characters that became central to the franchise and McFarlane’s alleged failures to pay Mr. Gaiman for use of the characters, his reprintings of Gaiman’s material without attribution, and McFarlane’s falsely claiming copyright of materials written solely by Mr. Gaiman.
The District Court’s final judgment awarded Mr. Gaiman a joint copyright interest in the three comic book characters he created: Medieval Spawn, Cogliostro, and Angela, and in the SPAWN and ANGELA comic book issues he wrote.
A forthcoming arbitration will award to Mr. Gaiman half the profits to date from each of those characters and publications since their inception. Gaiman was also awarded forty-five thousand dollars for the unauthorized use of his name and biography to market Image Comics’ 2001 trade paperback, Angela’s Hunt. Ken F. Levin, Mr. Gaiman’s counsel, noted that the future copyright damage award may be substantial, as the characters Mr. Gaiman conceived of appeared frequently as international toys and were featured in the “SPAWN” animated series broadcast for two seasons on HBO television, and in the theatrical feature film “SPAWN.” Gaiman has been on record since the beginning of the suit that any monies remaining from those he receives from the suit after his attorneys’ fees are paid, will be donated to comics-related charities, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (www.cbldf.com).
After the verdict Mr. Gaiman stated, “I am hugely appreciative of the jury’s decision, and of the efforts of the entire legal team. But I regret that bringing the matter to Court was made necessary.” Meanwhile McFarlane was quoted as saying, “I can’t seem to get around that it is a very complicated case that jurors didn’t get the full grasp of. We’ll see what time tells.” Mr. McFarlane’s attorneys have promised an appeal.
/CONTACT: Andy Heidel, +1-917-279-5412, andy.heidel@ verizon.net, for Neil Gaiman/