The family-owned company that holds the existing rights to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs has sued Dynamite Entertainment and Dynamic Forces, accusing the publisher and collectibles producer of trademark infringement and unfair competition with the release of “Lord of the Jungle” and “Warlord of Mars” comics.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in New York City and first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. claims the comics were published without authorization after Dynamite Entertainment President Nick Barrucci was told that Dark Horse held the licenses for the “Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars” novels. The complaint insists the comics “Lord of the Jungle,” “Warlord of Mars,” “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris” and “Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom” are likely to “deceive, mislead and confuse the public” about the source or sponsorship of the content, causing “irreparable injury” to ERB Inc.
Established in 1923 by Burroughs and now primarily owned by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, ERB Inc. owns the trademarks to “Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars,” as well as the common law rights in the “Tarzan Lord of the Jungle,” “Dejah Thoris” and “Barsoom” marks. Although Burroughs’ earlier works, like “Tarzan of the Apes, “The Return of Tarzan,” “A Princess of Mars” and “The Warlord of Mars,” have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, the complaint notes that they remain under copyright protection in the United Kingdom.
Presumably to bolster its claim of “irreparable injury,” ERB Inc. takes specific issue with some of the covers and interior art for “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris,” insisting they “border on (and in some cases are) pornographic”: “On some covers — covers which defendants refer to as “Risque Nude” exclusive covers — Dejah Thoris appears topless.”
The lawsuit doesn’t specify damages, but seeks the recall of the comics distributed in the United Kingdom, and the surrender of profits from the infringing works.
Keep it tuned to CBR News for more on this story as it develops.