Friday, June 17, 2011

Defiant, Marvel, and the Plasm Lawsuit

Jim Shooter, former head of Marvel and Valiant, also started a comics company called Defiant Comics back in the 90s.  I liked a couple of their comics (they only made a few before going out of business), including their initial ongoing series, called "Warriors of Plasm."  David Lapham drew it.

I remember hearing at the time that the book was initially going to be called just "Plasm," but that they changed it because of a lawsuit with Marvel.  Shooter has discussed this lawsuit briefly since then:
We also, when we first started out, were sued by Marvel Comics. When we announced Plasm, they claimed they had a character that that infringed upon. What they actually had was a name registered in the U.K. trademark with intent to use. They ended up suing us. We ended up fighting that out in court. It cost us over $300,000 in court. We won, hands down. The judge scolded them at the them [sic], because he knew they were just using it as a business weapon. Trying to use the court to squelch a competitor.
Especially since, to them, I was a dangerous competitor. The last time I had started a company, I had taken a chunk out of their market share. They lost and lost big. But when you're a small company and somebody bleeds $300,000 out of you -- also 120 hours of my time, a similar amount of time for Winston [Fowlkes] who was the publisher.
-Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief of Defiant Comics, October 2000
A spurious trademark infringement lawsuit against us by Marvel helped speed our demise. They lost, but it cost us over $300,000 to defend ourselves. Bleeding that much money out of a small start-up is lethal. Their true mission was accomplished.

-Jim Shooter, June 2011

Here's my own comment on this situation:  Jim Shooter should not blame Marvel for killing Defiant; he should blame his own lawyers.  Any lawyer who allows a case to go to trial where, even if he or she wins, the litigation costs would run the client out of business is not a good lawyer, no matter how skilled he or she is at arguing in court.