Robot 6

In another twist, Marvel is sued for $750 million in movie profits

Marvel

Marvel

Shareholders of Stan Lee Media on Monday sued Marvel Entertainment, Stan Lee and others for more than $750 million — about half of the estimated proceeds from Marvel’s movies.

Also named are Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter and former Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad.

The suit, filed in federal court in New York City, accuses the defendants of denying shareholders of the failed dot-com their rights to 50-percent ownership of Lee’s co-creations at Marvel.

A Marvel spokesman told The Associated Press that the lawsuit is filled with “ridiculous claims.”

This is only the latest round in a dispute that dates back to 1998, when Perlmutter used bankruptcy procedures to end Marvel’s $1 million-a-year lifetime contract with Lee. That negated Lee’s assignment to the company of his rights to creations such as Spider-Man, The X-Men, Iron Man and The Hulk.

However, it also freed Lee to form Stan Lee Entertainment (which later merged with Stan Lee Media) with now-infamous entrepreneur Peter F. Paul. The company filed for bankruptcy in February 2001, and emerged from protection in November 2006.

The lawsuit — and the $5-billion one that came before it, in March 2007 — hinges on a sequence of events that took place between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Lee’s employment, and November 1998, when Lee entered into a new agreement with the company and signed over his likeness, and any claims to characters.

Representatives of Stan Lee Media previously have claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company rights to his creations and his likeness.

It also should be noted that in July 2007, Stan Lee Media sued Stan Lee, who returned the favor.

For more, and more colorful, background, Barron’s published a solid article on the dispute back in June.

Update: Tom Spurgeon has commentary as he watches a press conference this morning featuring Martin Garbus, attorney for the plaintiffs.

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Comments

16 Comments

Greed! This could be a springboard for a new character Irony-Man. What was once a great hobby and escape for youth has become a medium of selfishness. Shame on all of you. Give the comics back to the kids.

Not greed — the word is fraud. That is what Marvel did.

Fraud, is that what Lee did to Kirby and Ditko by taking credit for the creation of most of the characters. Make Marvel Mine, indeed.

Does this not seem absurd to anyone else? Sure, I haven’t read the court documents, but it just seems too outrageous to be remotely possible.

Here are the pleadings. This is very interesting reading.

http://spidermansrights.blogspot.com/

I just removed three comments. It’s actually possible to comment on a legal/financial story without resorting to name-calling and bizarre, racially tinged insults.

“What was once a great hobby and escape for youth has become a medium of selfishness.”

It’s always been this way. Check out, among tons of other resources, Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow for a picture of the industry at its beginnings. It’s not pretty. If we want a golden age, we are going to have to make it ourselves. Hopefully webcomics and digital distribution will lead us to more equitable deals for creators.

Oh, sure it’s POSSIBLE. Not fun, but possible. ;)

Stan has more problems in Los Angeles. The federal judge’s order was just released today. He ruled that POW! illegally removed properties from the bankruptcy of SLM. What that means is that POW! has made deals with properties it doesn’t own.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/11453965/Order-Denying-QEDs-MSJ-12009

Stan Lee has more problems than he knows what to do with right now. I think that most of his problems develop from just having bad legal representation. I mean let’s face it, if he had a decent lawyer that was worth the money that Stan Lee can fork, then he would not be in this mess. Personally, I am not concerned with what legal troubles that Mr. Lee has created for himself. I think that he is getting a big plate of Krama coming his way after all of the people that he has crushed in order to get to the top, Bob Kane never had this much trouble when it came to legal matters. I just hope that this virus known as greed doesnt effect what products are coming out of the house of ideas.

It doesn’t seem like this is really of Stan Lee’s fault. I know he never owned any of his Marvel creations, this seems to be about merchandising. Maybe I’m wrong, I took Business Law and it was hard.

I thought business law was kinda fun . . . in a headache kind of way . . . but then you have nonsense and confusion like this

Sucks to hear that this is happening to everyone. Just wondering why Stan would self off his likeness? Doesn’t make sense because technically he’s been the face of Marvel for years, so why just sell yourself off for money? Well I hope things get worked out for everybody.

to Yomomma:

When Marvel cancelled his lifetime employment agreement in their bankruptcy and unwittingly his rights assignments, he made a deal to start his own company. He signed over everything to the new public company, SLM, for his employment deal and majority of the stock.

I think SLM is really hoping for a settlement deal to come out of this. If Marvel had unwittingly given up (or back) rights to characters, their legal council for these agreements is probably facing a huge malpractice suit as well.
If Lee had gained any rights back, and they somehow came into the possession of SLM, why didn’t SLM capitalize on those right prior to filing bankruptcy?? They are going back to events from 1998, they should have been capitalizing on these rights from the get go.
If Lee can’t claim rights to properties he created under SLM (i.e. the properties now with POW!), how can SLM lay claim to right for properties Lee created under Marvel?
It’s often the case that suits are filed on weak or no premise on the hopes of receiving a settlement, since the settlement is often less costly then a prolonged legal process. If that’s the case here, I hope Marvel sticks to their guns and gives SLM nothing.

Wow. Half of the Marvel movies proceeds? That would mean doing all the hard work of Iron Man 2 and The Avengers movies, and selling all the tickets for half-price.

This could be very bad for Marvel if a judge rules for the plaintiffs…

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