It would appear that The Wolf Among Us/Fables IP may be headed for a heated legal battle between its original creator, Bill Willingham, and DC. Willingham had recently expressed a wealth of disgust at his treatment and the treatment of his work by DC and even Telltale Games to a lesser degree, pushing him to claim to he had pushed the Fables/Wolf Among Us IP into public domain. However, DC contends that it still owns the rights to the IP and will take action to protect it if necessary.
Bill Willingham recently shared that he had filed that put the Fables universe into public domain via his Substack. There, he laid out his claim that the IP would be public domain going forward, as well as the reasoning why.
According to Bill Willingham, DC tried to use shady dealings to claim full ownership over the Fables IP, and broke contractual agreements several times in doing so.Source: Bill Willingham
Shortly after creating Fables I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV. DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board. In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright.
Willingham goes on to share that the recent anniversary run of Fables included a negotiation with DC that soured his view of the company and made him believe DC was trying to yank IP ownership out of his hands through shady deals. On its end, DC claims it still maintains ownership of rights to the Fables IP and suggested it is willing to go to court over it, as shared in a statement provided to IGN:
The Fables comic books and graphic novels published by DC, and the storylines, characters, and elements therein, are owned by DC and protected under the copyright laws of the United States and throughout the world in accordance with applicable law and are not in the public domain. DC reserves all rights and will take such action as DC deems necessary or appropriate to protect its intellectual property rights.
And so, it seems as matters heat up between Willingham and DC, the fate of the Fables and Wolf Among Us universes may be on the line in an upcoming legal dispute. Whether this affects The Wolf Among Us 2 (currently delayed to 2024) remains to be seen. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story for further updates.