Both Tribune Entertainment and 20th Century Fox claimed victory in Fox's lawsuit against Tribune and Marvel over the Mutant X syndicated TV series (see 'Fox Sues Marvel Over Mutant X'). Fox, which is in pre-production on a sequel to its X-Men Movie, claimed that the Marvel/Tribune Entertainment Mutant X series violated Fox's rights, which derive from the original agreement that Fox made with Marvel to create the X-Men movie. In a ruling handed down last week in New York District Court, Judge Allen Schwartz rejected Fox's call for an injunction to halt the production of Mutant X. This means that Tribune Entertainment will proceed with the premier of the Mutant X series, which will debut in about 90% of the North American television markets during the week of October 1.
But the judge also ruled that the Mutant X title infringed on Fox's rights, though the ruling made no provision forcing the Tribune Company to change the series' name. Fox has the option of going back to court to attempt to force Tribune Entertainment to change the series name to something that doesn't have 'X' in the title, but so far Fox has not said that it will go back to court. A Fox spokesperson did mention as part of his claim to victory that Tribune Entertainment had already modified the show to make it less like the X-Men.
With its mega budget X-Men sequel in the works, Fox obviously wants to avoid any confusion with lesser mutants, who might work in the wilds of syndication. Fox obviously feels that Mutant X could cheapen the whole X-Men/Mutant concept and dilute the effect of the studio's A-list film. Most retailers would probably hope that the Mutant X series, which is being produced by a team that includes some very savvy comics pros like Howard Chaykin, would be a success that would spawn a comics series and some toys, and maybe even get a few more kids to read comics. The court's decision appears to make it somewhat more likely that Mutant X will indeed make it on the air, though with the syndicated market as tough as it is, getting on the air is no guarantee of success.