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City of Heroes legal battle continues

Both sides quickly claim victory as the first round of judgements is announced.

With the legal battle between Marvel Enterprises and NCsoft well underway, both sides still say they're confident of success following the announcement of a preliminary judgement by the LA court last week.

Marvel first filed suit against the Korean publisher last November, claiming that players of MMORPG City of Heroes were creating characters in the likeness of Marvel superheroes and thereby infringing copyright. This is the first time a publisher has been sued over content created by players, and the case could set a precedent for future lawsuits.

NCsoft were the first to claim last week's verdict as a victory, quoting Judge R. Gary Klausner as saying that some of Marvel's allegations should be stricken as "false and sham".

"The judge also dismissed more than half of Marvel's claims," said NCsoft in a statement, "including claims that the defendants directly infringed Marvel's registered trademarks and are liable for purported infringement by City of Heroes users."

Marvel VP John Turtizin hit back in an interview with US website IGN, saying that "Marvel had three different causes of action alleging copyright infringement, and all three were sustained by the court.

"The case remains absolutely as strong as when Marvel filed its complaint," he added.

Turtizin went on to reassure players that they will not face legal action for creating Marvel-style characters: "We have not and will not sue customers of City of Heroes," he said. "Please continue to support the world of comic books, but if you want Marvel characters, please buy a Marvel-licensed game."

NCsoft now has less than a week to dispute any claims not yet dismissed before the case continues.

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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