Irish Rover Entertainment is suing Matt and Ross Duffer and Netflix for copyright infringement and is seeking unspecified damages over claims they stole the idea for "Stranger Things" from a screenplay called "Totem."
The lawsuit filed in a California federal court on Wednesday alleged that "Stranger Things" is a copycat from the screenplay written by Jeffrey Kennedy, who created the "plot, sequence, characters, theme, dialogue, mood, and setting, as well as copyrighted concept art" for "Totem." He and Aaron Sims worked on the screenplay together. Sims thereafter provided the concept art for the first two seasons of the Netflix show.
Kennedy's unpublished screenplay was inspired by the death of his childhood friend, Clint Osthimer, who suffered from epilepsy. According to the suit obtained by Digital Spy, "during their childhood together in rural Indiana, Osthimer and Kennedy dealt with the constant threat of Osthimer's 'personal demon,' epilepsy, which created 'lightning showers' in his brain. These lightning showers or seizures would send him to an alternate supernatural plane where the demon resided."
The lawsuit then drew comparisons between "Stranger Things" and "Totem" and noted that both have the same premise. They both centre on a girl with supernatural powers. In Kennedy's screenplay, the girl's name is Kimimela or "Kimi," who "helps her friends find the portal gate to an alternate supernatural plane and helps them battle the plane's inhabitants; a dark spirit named Azrael and his army of Blackwolf."
The claim alleged that Matt and Ross Duffer changed the girl's name in their show to Eleven or "El" for short and she "helps her friends find the portal gate to an alternate supernatural plane and helps them battle the plane's inhabitants; a Shadow Monster and his army of Demogorgon."
However, Netflix contested the lawsuit and a representative told The Wrap in a statement that "Mr. Kennedy has been peddling these far-fetched conspiracy theories for years, even though Netflix has repeatedly explained to him that The Duffer Brothers had never heard of him or his unpublished script until he began threatening to sue them."
Kennedy allegedly filed the lawsuit after Netflix "refused to give in to his demands for a payoff." The rep revealed that "there is no shortage of people who would like to claim credit for creating 'Stranger Things.' But the truth is the show was independently conceived by The Duffer Brothers, and is the result of their creativity and hard work."