Settlement Presumed Finalized, But Disputes Still Not Over
Judge Richard Berman of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York formally dismissed the civil case Archie Comics originally filed against former Sonic comic writer Ken Penders, public records obtained by TSSZ show.
The order and structure of the dismissal appears to confirm both sides have reached and finalized settlement terms amicably. We first told you about those initial terms in December, but indications were that a roadblock was reached finalizing them. Those finalized terms were not disclosed in the public record.
The order, signed by attorneys for both sides on June 27th and then signed by Judge Berman on Monday, details that claims on both sides have been dismissed, and that both sides will pay their respective attorneys’ fees:
[….] it is hereby STIPULATED AND AGREED by and between the parties as follows:
1. All claims asserted by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. are hereby dismissed.
2. All counterclaims asserted by Defendant Kenneth W. Penders II are hereby dismissed.
3. Each party shall bear its own attorney’s fees and costs.
Once the dismissal was finalized, Ken announced on his website that work on The Lara-Su Chronicles would continue, and thanked supporters.
Even as this nearly three year long step in the matter surrounding the use and ownership of derivative characters in the Archie Sonic comics is complete, it is just that–a step. Remember that other Sonic comic alum, including Scott Shaw, also have their names to several approved filings with the US Copyright Office. It remains to be seen whether Archie will contest those, or if Shaw and others will begin their own legal proceedings. There is also the matter of Penders’s case against Sega and Electronic Arts, which remains alive in the courts in California, and will only be strengthened with this outcome. You may remember that Sega became directly involved with settlement talks in this case earlier this year.
Beyond the changes already made to the current comics, it remains to be seen what else will be done in light of this decision, who will stay and go, or what readers will otherwise notice. Some fans have even speculated whether Sega would yank the comic license away from Archie in the event of an unfavorable decision, though no one from either Sega and Archie has commented on the prospect. It should all play out over the next couple of months, and we’ll be sure to bring you any notable updates within that timeframe.