COVINGTON, Ky. (CN) – A Kentucky writer claims in a lawsuit filed Monday that Disney infringed on his unproduced screenplay when it published Stan Lee’s young adult book series “Zodiac Legacy.”
Kentucky resident John Antony sued Disney Enterprises, whose Disney Press published the series aimed at 9 to 12 year olds, in Covington federal court alleging copyright infringement. Represented by attorney Stacy Cole, he seeks damages and disgorgement of profits.
“Zodiac Legacy” was the late Marvel legend Lee’s first foray into prose fiction and led to several books and graphic novels.
Antony says that 12 years ago, he was a struggling author when he pitched his concept for a movie, “Zodiac Regiment 12,” to a Disney representative at a screenwriting conference in Los Angeles.
He then handed over a copy of his screenplay and accompanying character biographies to the representative, according to the lawsuit.
Though he was told that Disney would contact him if there was any interest in his work, Antony claims he never heard back. Then in 2016, he discovered that the Disney had published the “Zodiac Legacy” book series, co-authored by Lee with Stuart Moore and Andie Tong.
Antony alleges the series borrows wholesale from his screenplay, which also featured teen Asian-American heroes who channel the power of the Chinese Zodiac to fight off bad guys.
“It also employs a majority of the same key plot elements, character devices, and story arc, cover to cover,” the 14-page lawsuit states.
Antony did not register his works with the copyright office until October 2018, according to his lawsuit.
Despite the prevalence of copyright infringement claims against studios in recent years, Antony’s attorney Cole said Tuesday she believes her client’s lawsuit has “real legs.” She added that the similarities between the two works are “striking.”
“When you do a reading side by side there are some overlapping things that can’t be coincidence,” Cole said in a phone interview.
Disney Enterprises did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment.