Marvel besieges ‘City of Heroes’

NCSoft sued for copyright violations in online game

Marvel has sued a Korean gaming company in Los Angeles federal court in connection with a “massively multiplayer” online game that allows players to create “heroes” that resemble Marvel comic characters.

Marvel alleges in its lawsuit that NCSoft’s “City of Heroes” online game allows participants to create characters that are very similar in appearance to copyrighted Marvel characters and then allows players to name those characters “Hulk,” “Wolverine,” “Storm,” “Captain America” and other names that mimic Marvel characters.

“Defendants facilitate and, indeed, encourage players to create and utilize Heroes that are nearly identical in name, appearance and characteristics to characters belonging to Marvel,” the suit states.

According to the lawsuit, “City of Heroes” has more than 180,000 subscribers — players who purchase the game software, then pay a monthly fee to play online.

Marvel alleges violations of copyright, trademark and unfair competition laws and seeks damages to be determined at trial for its actual and future losses as well as punitive damages.

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