Disney Sued for Billions by Stan Lee Media Over Marvel Comic Book Characters

Stan Lee Media, an internet based company founded in 1998 (and not Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel comics), recently filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming that the company was infringing on Stan Lee Media’s copyrights through Marvel movies including Spider-Man, Captain America and The Avengers.  According to news reports, Stan Lee Media is asking that the rights to the Marvel characters revert back to them, and for $5.5 billion in profits that Walt Disney Company allegedly made through merchandise and super-hero movies Stan Lee created.

The Walt Disney Company states that they indeed own the copyright to these super-hero characters, and hundreds more created by Stan Lee, who signed over rights to characters that he had already created or would create to SLMI (Stan Lee Media, Inc.) in October of 1998.  Although Stan Lee was paid when SLMI took over rights to the comic book characters, the company soon sought bankruptcy protection when the late 1990s experienced a dot-com market crash.  Stan Lee sued Stan Lee Media for copyright infringement himself in 2007.

SLMI claims that it clearly has rights to the characters, and that in fact in March of 2000, an amended version of the 1998 agreement was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Although Lee himself no longer owned the rights to the characters in 1998, he reportedly gave Marvel the rights to them in a signed written agreement in November of that year.  The lawsuit notes that the agreement between Lee and Marvel actually assigns nothing, because Lee no longer owned the characters.  In August of 2009, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion

In 2009, a lawsuit was filed against Stan Lee and Marvel by SLMI in a New York federal court over ownership of the characters; however, it was dismissed.

At the Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, our Los Angeles entertainment attorneys specialize in many legal aspects that pertain to the entertainment industry including licensing, management and publishing agreements, film, television and movie production, development and distribution contracts and more.  Contact our office for unparalleled legal guidance and representation in all entertainment business matters.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 at 10:42 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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