One member of The Umbrella Academy’s fun cast of villains is a robot man with a fish bowl for a head. But this led to a not-so-fun lawsuit for Netflix.
Season 2 of the Netflix show The Umbrella Academy introduced a bunch of new characters to the series. One of which was the villainous Atlas Jericho “A.J.” Carmichael, who is a shubunkin goldfish inside a robotic body, fit with a bowl for a head. He served as the head of the Temps Commission Board of Directors, and was one of the show’s most colorful characters.
The character comes from the comics that the series is based on, which were created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá for Dark Horse in 2007.
However, after Season 2 of the show came out, artist Kevin Atkinson accused Netflix, Dark Horse Comics, and Gerard Way of copying his own comic book character.
Did The Umbrella Academy and Netflix steal a character?
Kevin Atkinson sued all parties last year in a copyright lawsuit, claiming that the comics – and subsequently Netflix – copied his design for a character called Kingfish that first appeared in Rogue Satellite Comics in 1996.
The characters both look and act similarly; they are both villains that have a talking fish on top of a robotic body.
This is apparently not the first time that Atkinson’s character – who was actually created by the late artist Chris Reilly – has supposedly been plagiarized. Atkinson sued Dreamworks in 2011 for their depiction of a fish-headed robot in the animated film Megamind.
Has the Umbrella Academy lawsuit been settled?
The copyright lawsuit has finally been settled this week, a month after the judge overseeing the case granted Netflix’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “To establish a copyright infringement claim, there must be proof of actionable copying, which involves access to the copyrighted work prior to the creation of the infringing work and evidence of similarity. If access cannot be demonstrated, a party may substantiate copying by showing a ‘striking similarity’ between the disputed works.”
Apparently, there wasn’t enough evidence for Atkinson to successfully make his case.
U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder stated in May that Gerard Way did not have access to and had not seen Atkinson’s work before making his comic. And now the judge has also found that neither the character nor his plot meet the standard of similarity. The order reads: “The ‘total concept and feel’ between the two storylines are not comparable.
“Rogue Satellite Comics is stylistically done in black and white, with a ‘campy’ vibe; by contrast, The Umbrella Academy is sharp, crisp and colorful.”
Atkinson was given a final chance to fix his claims, but opted to settle, though details of the deal remain sealed.
Viewers may wonder how this will affect the show going forward, and they are likely to keep seeing a certain fish-headed villain on their screens as the series continues.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 will premiere on Netflix on June 22.