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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
X-Men battle in court
X-Men the film was based on the Marvel comics
The rights to the popular X-Men characters are at the centre of a dispute between Marvel Enterprises, who devised the original comic book, and 20th Century Fox, who created a recent film version.

Fox is seeking unspecified damages against Marvel, alleging that a planned live-action TV series, called Mutant X, cheapens the studio's X-Men movie.

The movie made more than 100m in the US
But Marvel has said in its lawsuit that Fox's claims are without foundation because the series is totally different from the X-Men concept.

Both companies filed lawsuits in the US District Court, in Manhattan, New York, within minutes of each other on Tuesday.

Superhuman powers

The X-Men was developed by Marvel in 1963, based on people with genes which give them superhuman powers.

Characters include Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Magneto and the Toad.

Fox says Mutant X characters are virtually identical to those of X-Men and have been marketed with similar logos and artwork to make the public believe that the television show and the movie are related.

The lawsuit says Marvel Enterprises has violated state and federal laws by ignoring contracts it had signed with Fox which allowed creation of the X-Men movie and sequels in the future.

According to the lawsuit, Marvel also guaranteed no related live-action television programme would be made without Fox's written consent.

"Although we value our good relationship with Marvel and hope this can be resolved, we must take all appropriate action to protect our very valuable X-Men rights," a statement issued by Fox said.

The 52m movie, starring Patrick Stewart, made more than 104m in the US alone and sequels are in the pipeline.

New series

Marvel says the new series is different in terms of "character likenesses, character names, character personalities, underlying premise and individual episode stories".

The company says it cannot be found to be infringing its own trademarks and has asked for a declaratory judgment from the court that it had done nothing wrong.

A spokesman for Marvel said: "Notably, Fox has carefully waited until the last-minute to strike, a time when it would be the most difficult in all ways to cease production of the series."

The television series is scheduled to begin filming on 4 June for broadcast in the autumn.

See also:

16 Aug 00 | Entertainment
X-Men fans mob Stewart
17 Jul 00 | Entertainment
'X-factor' grips America
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