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‘Mutant X’ avoids name change

Tribune forges ahead with syndie sked

Tribune Entertainment and 20th Century Fox both claimed victory Thursday in their ongoing legal battle over the upcoming syndie action hour “Mutant X.”

In a ruling announced yesterday, New York District Court Judge Allen Schwartz turned down an injunction filed by 20th to halt production of Tribune’s “Mutant X” series.

At the same time, the court ruled that Tribune’s use of the “Mutant X” title violated 20th’s rights – but stopped short of actually forcing the distributor to change the series’ name.

20th filed suit against “Mutant X” producers Tribune, Marvel Enterprises and Fireworks Entertainment, arguing that the series bore an uncanny resemblance to its “X-Men” movie. The producers then countersued.

Tribune Entertainment prexy-CEO Dick Askin said Thursday that the U.S. District Court “overwhelmingly ruled in our favor … (and dismissed) all of the significant claims against Tribune.”

“We have always believed that there are no actionable similarities whatsoever between ‘Mutant X’ and the motion picture ‘X-Men,'” he said.

The ruling will allow Tribune to launch “Mutant X,” as planned, into syndication starting the week of Oct. 1.

Over at 20th, Ted Russell, the studio’s VP of litigation, argued that Tribune had already altered the nature of “Mutant X” following 20th’s complaint, and that the court said that it had the option of seeking a permanent injunction or monetary damages if Tribune continues to use the show’s title.

“If Tribune and Marvel decide to use the title ‘Mutant X,’ they do so at their own peril,” Russell said.

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