Robot 6

Stan Lee Media loses fight for Conan the Barbarian rights

A federal judge has dismissed a bid by Stan Lee Media Inc. to reclaim the rights to Conan the Barbarian, which the failed dot-com briefly held before going into bankruptcy in 2001. However, a bigger legal brawl still lies ahead, when the company appears before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on March 8 to argue it should be allowed to pursue the rights to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers and other lucrative Marvel properties.

Stan Lee Media, which operates independently of its namesake and co-founder — in fact, it’s suing Stan Lee — has struggled since emerging from bankruptcy in November 2006 to regain some of the money and glory from the heyday of the Internet bubble, primarily through lawsuits claiming the improper transfer of intellectual properties.

In the Conan lawsuit, filed in August even as Conan the Barbarian 3D arrived in theaters, the company claimed, in part, that when Conan Sales Co. bought back the rights to the Robert E. Howard characters in 2002, shareholders weren’t notified, and SLM’s interests weren’t properly represented. The complaint also alleged that Arthur Lieberman, Lee’s longtime attorney, committed fraud during the proceedings, and failed to report conflicts of interest. As a result, SLM argued, the transfer of the rights to Conan Sales Co., which subsequently sold them to Paradox Entertainment, should be annulled.

However, Hollywood, Esq. reports that U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson wasn’t swayed by the arguments, and last week dismissed the lawsuit, finding that shareholder notice wasn’t required during the bankruptcy process — and even it was, SLM couldn’t demonstrate standing or harm. Wilson also noted that the company did, in fact, have representation during the proceedings, and that it had failed to show that Lieberman had acted improperly.

While Stan Lee Media has hit a roadblock in its pursuit of Conan, its year-old lawsuit against Lee, QED Productions and POW! Entertainment, alleging Lee improperly transferred rights to his multibillion-dollar co-creations from SLM to Marvel, faces its next test in March before the appeals court. (Actually, that lawsuit is a reboot of one filed in January 2009 against Lee, Marvel and others; the previous one was dismissed in April 2010, in part, because of lack of standing.)

As only fitting for a lawsuit involving superhero properties, the case has a long, complicated backstory — one that dates back to Marvel’s own bankruptcy: In 1998, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter used bankruptcy procedures to end Marvel’s $1 million-a-year lifetime contract with Lee, negating Lee’s assignment to the company of his rights to his co-creations. 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. The lawsuit 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, as well as any claims to characters. Representatives of SLM previously have claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company rights to his creations and his likeness.

News From Our Partners

Comments

21 Comments

Seves him right. He’s ripped off too many people. I’d like to see him dump the comics business and start doing this: A fool who can keep silent is counted among the wise.

He needs to quit the business and start doing this: http://youtu.be/VQ6dvKCfDRo

and like a phoenix stan lee media rises this time as a fighter in court even though their claim to the marvel characters will go no where since odds marvel will claim stan was under work for hire when he co created them .

Not a lawyer, but I think the one thing that makes Stan’s claim of ‘ownership’ different that those like Kirby and Simon is that he ended up with a portion of ownership of Marvel at one point and by virtue of the agreement that Pearlmutter negated, Marvel, on some level, concurred that he held some measure of ownership of those characters. I really do feel bad for some of the Golden/Silver Age greats that feel as though they are being left out of the success of their creations, but on the flip side, I have yet to see anyone fight Marvel to get the rights for Dazzler or DC to get the rights to Space Cabbie returned to them. I always remember the story of the guy that created the Post-It. All he got was a bonus for his creation, he created Post-Its as an employee of 3M and as such, they were the property of 3M.

Just so people realize, Stan Lee has nothing to do with this, its a group of people who just own the company doing this. They are suing him too.

Yes, it says as much in the second paragraph.

Yeah but why expect them to read the damn article before weighing-in with their two cents?

Inferring from the headline is good enough, am I right?

There was an article????

READ THE ARTICLE

February 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

What’s up with all the Stan Lee bashing? READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE, you nitwits!

Is there any news about comics anymore that ISN’T a legal battle? Sigh…

Yeah good luck with that.

“Is there any news about comics anymore that ISN’T a legal battle? Sigh…”

Nope! That’s why Marvel’s next big event is ‘Avengers SUE the X-Men”! :-P

“Nope! That’s why Marvel’s next big event is ‘Avengers SUE the X-Men”! :-P”

Actually if Bob Ingersoll was the writer I’d probably have to get this

Soooo, a company with Stan Lee’s name, that happens to be suing Stan Lee, that was founded decades after the debut of characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers, is suing Marvel, the company Stan was an EMPLOYEE OF decades before his name was lent to the former company, over the ownership of characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers, which of course they never had the rights to … Yeah, good luck with that.

The only ones who win are the lawyers.

How can they sue Stan Lee at all and then hoping to get the rights to Characters owned exclusively by Marvel Comics is absolutely beyond me.They are not going to anything out of this weak lawsuit.Spider-man and company ain’t going anywhere.I hope that Marvel Comics comes down on Stan Lee Media like the wrath of God and sends them back into their watery grave where they belong.

Stan Lee Media should have stayed dead in the hell called bankruptcy.They are suing a man whose name should not even be used for the company now that have we seen them for the money greedy SOB zombie corporations they are.

May the Stan Lee Media burn in hell and crawl back into the ground where they belong.

These people are crazy! Why don’t they get a new name and create their own characters.

the mouse’s lawyers are gonna slaughter these poor fools and end up owning there ‘company’

Reading all these articles about what’s going on in comics and all these legal battles really makes me wish I had become a lawyer. *sighs* Where was that lawyer manga back when I was a kid?

so who wants to create some new characters for marvel? anyone? oh cmon!!!

Brian from Canada

February 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm

superman1930:

They can sue because of the timeline. Stan Lee Media was started AFTER Perlmutter cancelled Stan’s contract in an attempt to balance the books during the stock fight with Arad et al. over at Marvel. For Perlmutter, it was a smart thing to do because they’d just lost the “guaranteed” revenue from tv movies thanks to Fox backing out of all their production deals. [Nick Fury, Silver Surfer animated and Spider-Man Unlimited were burned off once Marvel was back on their feet.]

SLMedia is claiming that Stan got the rights to his creations back then, and those rights were transferred to the new company when he formed it. Marvel is claiming that Stan kept the character rights separate from the new company, which is how he was able to use them to get back his salary with Marvel a few months later.

The present Marvel contract with Stan requires him to not pursue the copyrights of those characters, for which he must also produce x number of newspaper strips, and for that gets $1 million per year minus a small portion that can be earned via other comics (like the work he did for DC), plus royalties from movies where he has a production credit.

Leave a Comment

 



Browse the Robot 6 Archives