Homer Simpson Hologram at Comic-Con Draws Patent Lawsuit (Exclusive)

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The new fight is just the latest in 25 years of a cast vs. Fox.

Leave it to Homer Simpson to get 20th Century Fox into trouble for allegedly violating a patent.

On Thursday, Alki David's Hologram USA filed a lawsuit that claims a 3D representation of the famous Homer at this year's Comic-Con convention in San Diego infringed its patented system to project three-dimensional images onstage.

The plaintiff has sued before — most notably targeting a Michael Jackson re-creation at the Billboard Music Awards. David is also doing battle with Pulse Entertainment over his patent demands.

But Hologram USA claims to hold rights to a new version of a 19th century stage trick called "Pepper's Ghost," which the company says was famously used to create the late Tupac Shakur performing at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival.

On July 26 at Comic-Con, those associated with The Simpsons showed up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show and promote the new Simpsons World app, allowing fans to watch any episode of the show they want anytime. The lawsuit recounts a 45-minute panel discussion with the show's creator, Matt Groening, executive producer Al Jean and others. Near the end, Groening introduced Homer to the stage.

Fox put the moment up on YouTube. (Find it below.)

When Homer Simpson makes a joke about registration at Comic-Con, Groening replies, "I don't care. I get my free ticket from the hologram of Tupac Shakur."

"As with the Simpson hologram, the Patented Technology was used to create the Tupac Shakur hologram," states the lawsuit (read here). "Unlike the creators of the Tupac Shakur hologram, however, Defendants did not obtain a license or any other authorization to use the Patented Technology for the Performance."

James Brooks' Gracie Films also is a defendant in the case. 

The plaintiffs, including Musion Das Hologram and Uwe Maass, are seeking damages for willful infringement.

A spokesperson for Fox says, "This filing is totally without merit and we have no comment except to say that once again, Mr. David has demonstrated his insatiable need to remain relevant."

The lawsuit comes months after The Simpsons featured the issue of piracy in an episode. After being caught by a friend pirating a movie and given some direction, Homer responds, "Theaters? All I need to see this movie is a laptop and a website based in a country that's really just an offshore oil platform."

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com