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Judge dismisses another Stan Lee Media lawsuit against namesake

In yet another legal blow to Stan Lee Media, a federal judge in California has dismissed its lawsuit against namesake and co-founder Stan Lee seeking billions in profits as well as ownership of the writer’s most famous co-creations.

Law 360 reports that while attorneys representing Lee, his POW! Entertainment and its subsidiary QED Productions had argued that the shareholder lawsuit was barred because an identical action filed in New York was dismissed in 2010, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson didn’t explain his decision to dismiss on Monday. A written order is expected later this week.

The failed-dot com has long claimed Lee improperly transferred rights to such characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Avengers and Thor from Stan Lee Media to Marvel. The lawsuit is only part of a many-tentacled legal monster that was spawned in 1998, when 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, and emerged from protection in November 2006.

This lawsuit, like the one that came before it, hinged 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 SLM previously have claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company rights to his creations and his likeness.

Wilson had permitted Stan Lee Media to renew its claim in February 2011, with the plaintiffs hoping a loss three months ago with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals would help pave the way for the California action. Apparently it didn’t.



It’s funny to me, all the Stan bashers out there don’t get that he also was screwed out of his co-creations. He ain’t perfect, but he didn’t make out like a bandit at Kirby (and others) expense.

Misney and DC better get their heads out of their assess when it comes to working with creators.

Who Cares N. E. Way

July 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Stan Lee could go lay on the couch for the rest of his life and be fine financially. Its not like he needed the money.


“he didn’t make out like a bandit at Kirby (and others) expense.”

I suggest you take a good look at what Stan Lee has gotten out of this vs what Kirby, Ditko, et al did.

He’s made a lot more out of it, credit and cameos in the movies, etc, where they get nothing.

MB wrote :
“I suggest you take a good look at what Stan Lee has gotten out of this vs what Kirby, Ditko, et al did. He’s made a lot more out of it, credit and cameos in the movies, etc, where they get nothing.”

You realize Kirby is dead and Ditko “has refused to give interviews or make public appearances since the 1960s”, right?

If you were entitled to billions for characters you created you’d be pissed. He may be well off financially but he has a legacy to protect. He should get his money.

too bad this latest thing does not convince the stan lee media group to finaly stop wasting their time in court and legal fees and just accept they are not going to get any reward for stan like steve and kirby deal with marvel was a work for hire which means DisMarvel owns the rights to the characters not stan and he like ditko and kirby never will till copy right law allows them or their estate to be able to claim the characters. stan does not own the rights to spider man and crew.

Stan Lee Media will continue to haunt Stan Lee .They are not going anywhere.These individuals did not crawl out of the bowls of hell, only to be denied what they believe is rightfully theirs.

Stan, unlike Kirby & Ditko, was actually an employee of Marvel/Timely comics, I wonder if that negated the ‘work for hire’ status accorded to the others and incidentally recently upheld in court when the Kirby heirs claim fell.

I assume he would have a standard work contract under which he received his wages, health insurance and tax declarations.
Since Stan never counter signed any checks with the ‘work for hire’ words on the back does that mean his claim to the characters is stronger in law?
It would certainly explain why he was on a $1million/year contract – I presume the company didn’t want to test their ‘ownership’ in court. And further Stan must have signed over his share of the rights on condition his money was paid, when that stopped the rights reverted back to him. How is that possible if the company hadn’t accepted all along that Stan had a legitimate claim to the rights.

I’m all for Stan getting his fair share but it’s a shame Ditko & Kirby didn’t get some preferential treatment.
It’s arguable that, in comics especially, the realisation of an idea is the greater achievement; we can all name great sounding concepts which have been poorly executed.

You know this sad. A man creates these properties and gets screwed. It’s so typical of Americans, all in the name of business.

Yes John, because Europeans, Asians and Australians never fuck over their own in business deals. Idiot.

I’m firm believer that the writer, the man who plots the origin story, the character’s motive and personality, who then guides the artist into what they want them to look like, is the “creator” of that character. That’s what Lee did for ALL his characters. If Ditko and Kirby had sat down with Lee and plotted every issue, discussing the character development and where the story was headed, I’d think they’d be entitled to the same money as Stan. They didn’t. They were handed a script and told to “draw this.”

@Rob –

The key missing legal detail that shamefully would have saved Kirby’s legacy is if he was accurately credited as being the Concept Designer, in addition to being illustrator.

Stan did not come up with ANY of the looks, costumes, or visual styles that these guys contributed to making his somewhat two-dimensionally written stories POP!

It’s all semantics. It’s all B.S. If Stan wants to live it out in full grace, he will one day give retroactive credit to Kirby as his PRIMARY Conceptual Artist, for his graphically illustrated work in the ’60s.

It may not get a 50 / 50 breakdown, but perhaps a 20% cut of the countless, seemingly endless merchandising wings & licensing deals that’ve come from Marvel & it’s character likenesses.

Dark Horse is one of the few companies that corrects these terms in their contracts – and Marvel has amended special deals w/ their top-tier talent to give them more compensation than they have in the past.

But Kirby is – and will be – the Martyr for all of us who seek to create characters that emerge from our imaginations, to connect to others thru publication & distribution. (Gotta love Stan & all he’s done for the biz. But Stan’s scripts were the equivalent of what your 5 yr. old nephew could drum up in 30 mins. Without Kirby’s classically dynamic storytelling style. Then garnished with dialogue that Stan would tack on AFTER the pages were already drawn.

Get cher facts straight, and you can dismiss these character’s true creator, in Likeness if not Voice.


I think you need to go back and research how these books were created. Rarely was a script handed to the artist. More likely a vague plot was discussed between writer and artist. Artist would figure out the beats. Turn the pages over to the writer to do dialog, etc. Pretty much a straight collaboration. Your draw this statement is just complete crap.

in an old interview with stan in wizard magazine in 1996,he said that kirby was later plotting stories,with him only scripting.and kirby was also sometimes co-plotting the stories with him,but is un-credited.the ” marvel way” which was created by stan and was normal at marvel in the 60’s was,stan would write basic plots and the artist would decide the page design, number of panels,what the characters expressions,based on the basic plot and he would script after the art is done,and in that interview,he said kirby would add something in the story via the art that wasnt in the basic plot stan made or they talked about,that makes kirby a co-plotter of most stories they did with marvel.

From reading some of these comments I have to wonder if those commenting have actually read the article. I’m getting the impression some people think this is a lawsuit against Marvel when it was a lawsuit by a company Stan used to own against him.

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