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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Copyright Clash Over Demon-Fighting Stories

NASHVILLE (CN) - The creator of the "Dark-Hunter" sci-fi and fantasy series claims in court that the author of "Shadowhunter" books copied elements of her story.

Sherrilyn Kenyon says she started the "Dark-Hunter" series in 1998. The story "follows an immortal cadre of warriors who fight to protect mankind from creatures and demons who prey on humans," according to court records.

On Friday, Kenyon sued Cassandra Clare aka Judith Rumelt aka Judith Lewis, claiming her "Shadowhunter" series initially used Kenyon's trademark "darkhunter."

After Kenyon demanded that Clare remove the word "darkhunter" from her work, Clare used the term "shadowhunter" for her protagonists instead, according to the lawsuit. The word "hunter" was also removed from the book title.

Clare's book, "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," was published in 2007. Since then, Clare has expanded her use of the term "shadowhunter" despite assurances that she would not, according to Kenyon.

Clare's 2007 book was made into a movie and released in 2013, the lawsuit states. In 2014, it was reportedly announced that "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" would be adapted into a television series called "Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments."

Kenyon says ABC Family picked up Clare's TV pilot in March 2015. The first episode of the "Shadowhunters" TV show premiered on Jan. 12 of this year, according to IMDB.

The "Dark-Hunter" author also claims Clare has used symbols and merchandise that are confusingly similar to Kenyon's.

"Comparing the Dark-Hunter series to Clare's work or works, the literary components are fictional and, in many respects, the elements are virtually identical," Kenyon's Feb. 5 lawsuit states. "These substantially similar elements, coupled with defendant's access to the Dark-Hunter series, which were widely disseminated, leave little doubt that numerous substantive original elements of the Dark-Hunter series have been copied by defendant."

Kenyon says that Clare began her series after Kenyon's series had already made the New York Times' bestseller list.

"Both the Dark-Hunter series and the Shadowhunter series are about an elite band of warriors that must protect the human world from the unseen paranormal threat that seeks to destroy humans as they go about their daily lives," the 29-page complaint states. "These hunters, whether 'dark' or 'shadow,' preserve the balance between good and evil, protecting humans from being consumed or enslaved."

Kenyon accuses Clare of copyright and trademark infringement and false advertising. She seeks a court order enjoining Clare from infringing on "Dark-Hunter" copyrights and trademarks.

The "Dark-Hunter" writer also seeks compensatory damages and lost profits. She is represented by James Mackler of Frost Brown Todd LLC in Nashville.

According to her website's frequently asked questions section, Clare says she got the idea for the "Shadowhunter" series from footprints on the ceiling of a tattoo shop. It "looked like some fabulous supernatural battle had been fought there," her website states.

Editor's Note: After this article ran, Clare's attorney John Cahill said the author was "surprised and disappointed that Ms. Kenyon would file this baseless lawsuit, a decade after the debut of Cassie's books."

"Kenyon is wrong when she claims that Cassandra Clare or her publisher made any agreements about using 'shadowhunters.' Cassie never gave Kenyon any assurances regarding this and, although she would have preferred to resolve any concerns that Ms. Kenyon has or may have had, Ms. Kenyon never contacted or spoke with her," Cahill said in a statement. "In addition, many of the characters and events cited as similar by Kenyon in her lawsuit appeared in Cassie's works prior to their appearance in Kenyon's."

Cahill said Kenyon's lawsuit "rests on a basic misunderstanding of copyright law and Cassie's totally original work."

"Tellingly, the lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie," Clare's attorney said. "There is little chance of anyone confusing Cassie's young adult themes and orientation with the sometimes very adult storylines in Ms. Kenyon's books. Indeed, we expect that all of Ms. Kenyon's claims will be dismissed."

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