Netflix settles lawsuit over fish-headed 'Umbrella Academy' villain

A Netflix logo is shown on a TV screen ahead of a Swiss vote, in this illustration
A Netflix logo is shown on a TV screen ahead of a Swiss vote on a referendum called "Lex Netflix" in this illustration taken May 9, 2022. Picture taken May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Illustration
  • Comic-book artist said "Umbrella Academy" ripped off his fish-controlled humanoid character
  • Court dismissed case last month, gave permission to refile

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc and Dark Horse Comics LLC have settled a copyright lawsuit brought by artist Kevin Atkinson, who accused them of ripping off his fish-tank headed character in the comic and television series "Umbrella Academy," according to a Wednesday filing in East Texas federal court.

The notice of the settlement is sealed, and more details were not available. Atkinson's attorney confirmed that the parties settled on confidential terms. Netflix, Dark Horse, and their attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Atkinson first sued in Texarkana, Texas, last year, alleging A.J. Carmichael from "Umbrella Academy" was copied from a character he created in 1996 for his Rogue Satellite Comics. Carmichael and Atkinson's Kingfish are both talking fish antagonists in bell jars on top of human-like bodies.

The court dismissed Atkinson's lawsuit for the second time last month after he failed to show that "Umbrella Academy" comic creator Gerard Way had access to his work.

Atkinson had argued that Way, who is best known as the lead singer of rock band My Chemical Romance, would have learned of Kingfish through several avenues, including as a "hard-core" comic fan and employee at a comic-book store. U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder said Atkinson's allegations were still too speculative to show that Way knew his work.

Schroeder said at the time that he would give Atkinson one more chance to file an amended lawsuit.

The court also said last year that the characters were similar enough to otherwise justify continuing the case.

The case is 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.

For Atkinson: Karl Rupp of Sorey & Hoover

For Netflix and Dark Horse: Leon Carter of Carter Arnett

Read more:

Netflix defeats comic artist's 'Umbrella Academy' lawsuit for now

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713