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Settlement Reached in Netflix Trademark Violation Lawsuit

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


Fresh off the heels of the successful first run of the show “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” Netflix has settled claims by a religious group called the Satanic Temple stemming from the show’s usage of a “androgynous goat-headed deity” image. The figure is featured prominently in the “Academy of the Unseen Arts,” a fictional satanic school which the titular character attends. Plaintiffs allege the image is used to represent the evil antagonists of the series and in doing so, violates a trademark held by the Satanic Temple.

In the complaint, filed on November 8, 2018 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, the plaintiffs allege that defendants Netflix and Warner Brothers Entertainment infringed upon the copyright and purposefully diluted the trademark that the Temple holds for a statue called “Baphomet with Children.” This statue and the figure featured in the Netflix show are strikingly similar, with both featuring Baphomet in a seated position with a goat’s head and a male body. This is a unique form of the ancient deity in that it is traditionally portrayed as having a goat head, female chest, androgynous arms and a seated, male lower body. Also, the two statutes both feature Baphomet with a human child on either side of his chair—a young Anglo-Saxon girl wearing a knee-length sleeveless dress with a prominent high-waisted sash and a young boy of African American descent with short cropped hair, wearing a sport coat.

The plaintiffs argue that the use of the highly-similar statue in the school, which is populated by the evil antagonists, provokes thoughts of the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s and that it is in stark contrast to tenets of religious freedom promoted by the Satanic Temple. The suit brought claims of copyright infringement, false designation and forbidden dilution of a trademark and injury to business reputation under New York General Business Law. The details of the settlement have not been disclosed to the public.

The case is: United Federation of Churches LLC dba The Satanic Temple v. Netflix Inc. et al., Case No.: 1:18-cv-10372, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


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