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  • Has anyone seen this?

    From Newsarama:

    Red Sonja vs. Red Sonya in court this week
    Monday July 16, 2007, 8:42 am

    The battle over Red Sonja — or is that Red Sonya? — finally heads to court this week.

    The Wilmington, Del., News Journal reports that opening arguments are scheduled for today in a federal courtroom in Red Sonja LLC’s $5 million lawsuit against Paradox Entertainment.

    The lawsuit, filed in April 2006, alleges unfair competition and trademark infringement by Paradox, which around that time acquired the rights to Conan the Barbarian and the entire Robert E. Howard library — including Red Sonya. That’s Sonya, with a “y.”

    A pistol-packing Russian warrior from the 16th century, that character appeared in just one short story in the 1930s. However, as the News Journal reports, “Most media outlets missed the spelling distinction and reported that Paradox had acquired the rights to Red Sonja — with a ‘j’ — the one who prefers to wear a chain-mail bikini when she heads out for a flagon of ale.”

    And that’s where Red Sonja, LLC, comes in. That company, as you may have guessed from the name, owns the rights to the better-known Red Sonja — with a “j” — the character created in 1973 by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for use in the Conan comics then published by Marvel. Although loosely based on Howard’s character, the two are different, and the rights to Red Sonja were sold by Howard’s estate in 1982.

    In its lawsuit, Red Sonja, LLC, claims the lack of spelling distinction was intentional on the part of Paradox. The plaintiff further alleges Paradox posted one of the incorrect news stories on its website, “thereby citing that publication of proof of ownership of Red Sonja.” (The News Journal reports that, in a recent hearing, attorneys for Red Sonja, LLC, said Paradox had tried but failed to acquire the rights to Red Sonja before the announcement.)

    The complaint also alleges that Paradox has made other efforts to create confusion between the characters, and attempted to interfere with contracts and potential contracts regarding Red Sonja.

    Paradox denies the allegations and, in response, argues that Red Sonja, LLC, had allowed its trademark to lapse, and claims that Red Sonja, LLC, has infringed upon Paradox trademarks by making references to Paradox-owned characters, such as Conan.

    The News Journal points out that Paradox filed for a trademark for “Age of Hyboria,” the fictional era in which Red Sonja and Conan exist, “setting up the possibility that Red Sonja LLC could win the rights to the character, but she would never again be allowed to exist in the world that has been her home since she was created."


    So, I guess I am a little confused. Does this mean that if Red Sonja LLC loses, Dynamite can't use the character anymore w/o Paradox's permission? If Red Sonja LLC wins, can they still have her in the Age Of Hyboria? Any legal experts out there that can comment on this??

  • #2
    I'm not a lawyer (I have SOME self-respect); but since Robert E Howard has been dead for more than seventy years, all of his work should now be out of copyright.

    Which means that anyone can write stories about Conan or Red Son(y/j)a - just as they use the characters of Hamlet or Don Quixote.

    This is probably wrong.

    The lawyers will all finish up richer.

    This is undeniable.

    Comment


    • #3
      They should just let Paradox publish Red Sonya pistol-packing 16th century Russian warrior as created by
      Robert E. Howard. As long as it’s obvious it’s a completely different character than Sonja with a J which was created by Thomas and Smith at Marvel and now being published by Dynamite.

      Although if Paradox is truly actively trying to create confusion between the two characters than that is f’ed up, even though they own the Conan license they should keep their Sonya out of that universe the way Howard had it, they were separate.
      They do not own the Sonja from the Conan Hyborian Age, that concept was created by Marvel and is now being published by DE.

      On the same note it sounds like LLC or Dynamite should not be allowed to reference Conan or the Hyborian Age since Paradox does own that. I think DE’s Sonja is recognizable enough and can stand on it’s own without the Conan Hyborian crossover referances. They still have the Sonja everyone recognizes.

      While Paradox should take full advantage of what they do own, and should be allowed to forge forward with a book called Robert E Howard’s Sonya! As Howard envisioned her.
      Although she is less familiar, with the Howard name attached to her, and not to mention it’s a great character anyway, they should be fine. They just need to make it clear she is the pistol-packing 16th century warrior Howard created, and keep her out of Conan and the Hyborian Age, even though they own it. That is not where Howard envisioned her anyway.

      There is no reason both characters can't exist at the same time, and the competition between the two only means they have to push that much harder to make their character stand out the most!
      Last edited by Guicho; 07-16-2007, 02:21 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Lomax
        I'm not a lawyer (I have SOME self-respect); but since Robert E Howard has been dead for more than seventy years, all of his work should now be out of copyright.

        Which means that anyone can write stories about Conan or Red Son(y/j)a - just as they use the characters of Hamlet or Don Quixote.
        In a perfect world...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Guicho
          They should just let Paradox publish Red Sonya pistol-packing 16th century Russian warrior as created by
          Robert E. Howard. As long as it’s obvious it’s a completely different character than Sonja with a J which was created by Thomas and Smith at Marvel and now being published by Dynamite.
          Except of course, that the waters are considerably muddied by the fact that the original SonJa story in Conan 23 was a cover-version of the SonYa story Shadow of the Vulture (in which, incidentally, Red SonYa only gets second billing; the hero is a guy called Gottfried von Kalmbach), right down to the bad guy sporting a pair of wings.

          Further, it might be argued that if you have the right to Conan, you also have the right to subsidiary characters appearing in his tales, including SonJa. Otherwise, it might be possible for one publisher to own the rights to Xena, and another to Gabrielle.

          Then, of course, there's Roy Thomas who certainly created the chain mail bikini, so probably has the rights to that...

          Predictions -

          Several lawyers will make a lot of money.

          Both publishers will lose a lot of money.

          After a year or so, the two sides will arrive at a compromise, and wonder why they didn't do so to start with. Nevertheless, they will both claim to have won.
          Last edited by Lomax; 07-16-2007, 06:47 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm not an expert but after working for Kinkos for 7 years I know that copy right can be bad JuJu.

            Its true, after 75 years it expires, but it can be bought up by someone or something else. ie: Michiel Jackson owns the Copy right to "Happy Birthday to you!" Its for that reason Restraunts dont sing it to you when it is your birthday because he could collect royalties from it.

            With that said I think this is a great time for DE. It gives them a chance to move Red SonJa away from the whole Conan universe. At the same time the other company can absorbe the SonYa character. I've alway wanted to see the pistol packing version of her.

            Lastly, as for Conan, I thought Marvel own the rights to him. I have no idea how he fits in to all of this. I say let SonYa stay with Conan and let SonJa move on to her own world!

            *Crosses fingers*

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Lomax
              Except of course, that the waters are considerably muddied...
              Only if you muddy them.
              Howard’s SonYa did not appear with his Conan, and made no reference to the Hyborian Age, and that is what Parodox owns. Their character should not and need not reference anything Hyboria to remain absolutely true to the character as created by Howard. It would look too much like LLC/Dynamite's Sonja, which is obviously what LLC/Dynamite are afraid of.

              Equally LLC/Dynamite’s SonJa never appeared with Howard’s Conan or his Hyborian Age, that was entirely an invention of Thomas and Smith at Marvel when they had the Conan license.
              That shared universe does not exist anymore.
              So long as LLC/Dynamite don’t have the license, their SonJa should make no reference to Conan or the Hyborian Age.

              I know, it’s way over simplifying it.
              Last edited by Guicho; 07-16-2007, 05:08 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by P~~
                Michael Jackson owns the Copy right to "Happy Birthday to you!" Its for that reason Restaurants don't sing it to you when it is your birthday because he could collect royalties from it.
                This is true. However, even this copyright will lapse 70 (or possibly 75) years after the death of the last surviving of the two women who wrote it (for a nursery school they ran - the original words were, "Good morning to you... Good morning, dear children...").
                Last edited by Lomax; 07-16-2007, 06:50 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lomax
                  This is true. However, even this copyright will lapse 70 (or possibly 75) years after the death of the last surviving of the two women who wrote it (for a nursery school they ran - the original words were, "Good morning to you... Good morning, dear children...").
                  Copyrights were originally designed to lapse (and they should for the good of the public), but major corporations have been throwing their lawyers around and finding ways to protect their goods. for instance Mickey Mouse in Steamboat willy should have fallen into public domain, as should the Mouse himself, eventually, but Disney's legal kung fu is strong. very very strong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by P~~
                    With that said I think this is a great time for DE. It gives them a chance to move Red SonJa away from the whole Conan universe.
                    Isn´t this what they have been doing?!?!

                    I miss the Conan Universe Red Sonja.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pvehk
                      Isn´t this what they have been doing?!?!

                      I miss the Conan Universe Red Sonja.
                      I sort of ment on the more legal side of things. You are right, they have been doing this but there is always room for him to come back.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Latest news

                        Battle over comic-book heroine Red Sonja postponed
                        By SEAN O'SULLIVAN, The News Journal
                        Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 at 10:16 am

                        WILMINGTON - The federal trademark infringement case over the ownership of the comic book character Red Sonja has been rescheduled.

                        The bench trial, between Red Sonja LLC and Paradox Entertainment, was supposed to start today but according to court officials it has now been reset for Jan. 28. One of the attorneys in the case reportedly had a personal emergency.

                        Red Sonja LLC accuses Paradox of infringing on its trademark, causing confusion and seeks $5 million in damages. Paradox responded with a counterclaim.

                        Red Sonja LLC, owns the rights to the red-haired "she-devil with a sword" character that was created as a contemporary of Conan in 1973 by comic book writers and was featured in a 1985 film with Brigitte Nielsen and in her own comic book line.

                        Paradox, which owns “Conan the Barbarian” and almost every other work by the late fantasy author Robert E. Howard, owns the character Red Sonya - spelled with a “y.”

                        Red Sonya was created by Howard and featured in a single short story published in the 1930s that was set in a different time period than Conan.

                        According to court papers, comic book writers used the 1930s Red Sonya as an inspiration for creating the 1973 Red Sonja.

                        At stake are potentially millions in licensing and merchandising revenues.
                        Personally I think it would be a shame if RS were to be evicted from Hyboria as a result of this, but she has been legally separated from Conan for a long time, and recent plotlines have taken her further away from the world created by Robert E Howard.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          On a related note, why is DE claiming on the inside front cover that Red Sonja is a Howard character because she is NOT!

                          Also, I wouldn't mind Paradox to get Sonja's rights... I think Dark Horse has done a hell of a job with Conan and I'm disappointed the way Red Sonja is handled by DE.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the world of Hyboria is handled sloppily by DE. I'm not sure they deserve to keep it. Dark Horse have tried to substitute the character Janissa for RS, which has been one of the least successful aspects of the new Conan. Personally I think they should stick more to developing authentic Howard characters: he was capable of depicting strong women such as Belit and Valeria.

                            RS is off on her own trajectory. I really wonder how many Conan / Howard fans are following her at this stage. I doubt whether any of them at all are intersted in seeing her teamed up with Spidey, for example.

                            One thing I wonder about this court case is: where will it leave the Roy Thomas reprints?

                            Comment


                            • #15


                              Originally posted by Mikey_C
                              I think the world of Hyboria is handled sloppily by DE. I'm not sure they deserve to keep it. Dark Horse have tried to substitute the character Janissa for RS, which has been one of the least successful aspects of the new Conan. Personally I think they should stick more to developing authentic Howard characters: he was capable of depicting strong women such as Belit and Valeria.

                              RS is off on her own trajectory. I really wonder how many Conan / Howard fans are following her at this stage. I doubt whether any of them at all are intersted in seeing her teamed up with Spidey, for example.

                              One thing I wonder about this court case is: where will it leave the Roy Thomas reprints?
                              Actually, I liked the character of Janissa in Darkhorse's Conan, and wanted to see her further developed...

                              I'm a Conan/Howard fan, and I like the Dynamite Red Sonja. I don't mind the Sonja series being on a trajectory of it's own - I don't actually want it to be hog-tied to Conan. The story looks as though it is moving back toward a more "classically-inspired" pseudo-Hyborian setting - although I've gotta admit I'm impatient for this! And no - I'm definitely not a fan of Spiderman.


                              Tommy.
                              Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!

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