(NEW YORK) — A California woman has filed a lawsuit against A.V.E.L.A. Inc accusing the company of selling unauthorized merchandise based on Invasion of the Saucer-Men, a 1957 science fiction cult classic film.
The lawsuit filed by Susan Nicholson Hofheinz, the widow of the film’s producer and creator, James H. Nicholson, states: “Defendant A.V.E.L.A., Inc. (along with its affiliated entities) is a serial litigant, alleged to have ripped off numerous entertainment properties, that also markets and sells novelty items and other merchandise.”
According to the suit, the company allegedly “has marketed, distributed, and sold merchandise that exploits without authorization content from and related to the film, including without limitation novelty items that depict the Saucer-Men.”
As a result, Hofheinz, the exclusive owner of the rights to the film, filed the lawsuit to allegedly remedy “the out-of-this-world misconduct.” Other defendants include Amazon.com, Toys R’ Us and Funko.
Brian Mariotti, the CEO of Funko, declined a request for comment. Amazon.com said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Scott Burroughs, an attorney for Hofheinz, wrote in a statement to ABC News, ”Ms. Nicholson Hofheinz was horrified to discover that the defendants in this case were exploiting her exclusively-owned material, as the defendants had never even contacted her to request permission or a license, and the extent of the unauthorized use resulted in a diminution in the value of the film and her ability to license lawful merchandise.”
In the 15-page document, Hofheinz alleges, marketing material for the film and an image of a “Wacky Wobbler” toy is substantially similar to the Saucer-Men from the film. The suit alleges, “…right down to the wicked-looking blade instrument clutched in the Saucer-Man’s veiny claw. This violates the Plaintiff’s copyright in the film.”
The lawsuit, which was filed last month at the United States District Court of the Central District of California, calls the Saucer-Men depicted in the film “…unique, providing many hair raising and spooktacular moments throughout the film.”
Hofheinz is seeking attorney fees, treble and/or punitive damages and an injunction against continued infringement.
An attorney for A.V.E.L.A. did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susie East, CNN
Sam Turner, Deseret News