Home Arts & Leisure Archie Comic Publications wins a round in court

Archie Comic Publications wins a round in court

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Archie Andrews and his cohorts in Riverdale have prevailed in recent legal challenges in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti in White Plains ruled for Archie Comic Publications Inc. in a Sept. 5 court order.

Narrative Ark Entertainment LLC, a Mamaroneck company founded by Scott D. Fulop, a former Archie editor, sued Pelham-based Archie Comic Publications last year. Fulop alleges copyright infringement, deceptive business practices, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

The lawsuit also names Sega of America, an Irvine, California, video game publisher that licenses Archie Comic Publications to sell comic books based on characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog.

Fulop worked for Archie Comic Publications from 1988 to 1991 and again from 1994 to 1996. When he left the company, he continued to create stories, characters and artwork for the publisher as a freelancer. He claims, for instance, that he and another freelancer collaborated on several Sonic the Hedgehog projects.

He discovered in 2009 that Archie Comic Publications was reprinting stories and using characters he had created.

Fulop obtained copyright registrations for his work, organized Narrative Ark and transferred his copyrights to the company.

He claims that Archie Comic Publications and Sega have failed to compensate him for his works.

Archie Comic Publications and Sega charge that Fulop is claiming false authorship and ownership of the works.

Briccetti dismissed the copyright infringement and unfair competition claims, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is not improper to reproduce an author’s ideas without proper attribution.

The judge dismissed the deceptive business practices claim because Narrative Ark provided insufficient evidence of how Archie Comic Publications had harmed consumers.

Briccetti dismissed the unjust enrichment allegation under New York law because copyright law preempts claims under state law for matters covered by the federal law.

He dismissed the claims against Sega because the licensing agreement was not enough to establish jurisdiction in New York.

Fulop wanted to add two Archie Comic co-owners to the lawsuit, Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater. Briccetti denied the request, finding that the basis for adding them was “threadbare.”

Fulop also is asking the court to declare that Archie Comic Publications’ original copyright registrations are invalid. And he asked the court to dismiss the publisher’s counterclaim that Fulop slandered Archie by casting doubt on the validity of its ownership of the works.

Briccetti rejected Fulop’s slander motion, for now, because if Archie Comic Publications can establish that it is the owner of the copyrights that Narrative Ark claims to own, then Archie will have established an element of slander.

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