Robot 6

Stan Lee Media fires back at Disney in fight over Spider-Man

spider-manFighting an effort to end its persistent claims to Spider-Man, the tenacious Stan Lee Media Inc. insists it’s up to Disney to prove ownership of the Marvel superhero.

In documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, the failed dot-com again argued that none of the previous cases over the past decade — and there have been many — has directly addressed the merits of its ownership claims. “No judge has decided that Disney actually owns the Spider‐Man copyrights or, for that matter, that SLMI does not own the copyrights,” the papers state. “[…] That issue has never been decided, and Disney has now placed it directly before the court in this case.”

“This case” is a copyright- and trademark-infringement involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre. What Disney’s lawyers thought would be “a simple case” took an unexpected turn in November when the theater responded that it had licensed Spider-Man, from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to Stan Lee, to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, the other Marvel characters it’s sought since emerging from bankruptcy in 2006.

Stan Lee Media’s claims hinge on a sequence of events that took place between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Stan Lee’s employment, and November 1998, when Lee entered into a new agreement with the House of Ideas and signed over his likeness, and any claims to the characters. Stan Lee Media has long insisted that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company the rights to his creations and his likeness. SLMI asserted in a 2012 lawsuit that neither Marvel nor Disney, which bought the comic company in 2009, ever registered Lee’s November 1998 agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Therefore, SLMI argued, it actually own those Marvel characters.

Disney last month asked the judge to put an end to Stan Lee Media’s dogged pursuit of the property, arguing that not only have four federal courts precluded SLM from relitigating its ownership of the copyrights based on its 1998 agreement with Lee, but that SLM’s claims are barred by a three-year statute of limitations. In addition, Disney says, the company is an “administratively dissolved corporation that lacks the capacity to license.”

However, in Tuesday’s lengthy filing, which retraces the serpentine path of the dispute, Stan Lee Media insists prior litigation can’t prevent American Music Theatre, “and concomitantly SLMI, from defending itself by showing Disney’s assertion is wrong.” It also disputes the facts in Disney’s arguments concerning when the clock started on the statute of limitations as well as the company’s status as an “administratively dissolved corporation.”

The American Music Theatre also filed papers in opposition of Disney’s motion.

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Comments

20 Comments

Complicated Situation , Not sure who’s in the right but i love reading Comics so i guess i Hope Disney wins ??

x

Sigh…

Shouldn’t have been idiots and fired Stan Lee in the first place. Would have avoided this ridiculous conflict over three months

sharna, its not that complicated really.

Spider-man belongs to his creator, a 13-year old Jeph Loeb.

shortly after his submission, Jack Kirby stole the design

Shara,

You can’t be serious, right ?

Stan created Spidey, along with Steve Ditko. If those rights haven’t been signed away, more power to Stan.

You can’t really think Disney/Marvel would ever relinquish the rights ? Settlement for Stan, that he would hopefully share with Ditko.

Lol, this is like a kindergartner with a rolled up copy of Dynamite, hitting an NFL player in the leg repeatedly. It doesn’t affect him, but after awhile it gets annoying.

@Hondo Stan Lee and Stan Lee Media are two separate entities. He’s disassociated himself from them completely.

The actual creation of Spider-Man had been disputed almost from the beginning. Lee, Kirby and Ditko all had some input into the character, but I think at this point it would be impossible to discover the actual facts.

This thing about Jeph Loeb is new to me, but the idea of Jack Kirby stealing something, especially from a child, is ridiculous. If Loeb himself actually makes this claim than he should be ashamed of himself.

titanoftomorrow

March 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

I am a big DC comics fan and after following the Superman-Siegel lawsuit over ownership of Superman I am now giddy to hear Marvel/Disney have their drama! Personally I hope Stan Lee wins takes control over his properties and sell it to DC- that would be awesome

@Titan, this has nothing to do with Stan Lee himself. I really wish they’d add this information in the article.

At this point I can’t even tell who is trolling who in these comments.

MZ, the info is there:

“it had licensed Spider-Man, from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That opened the door for the company, **which no longer has a connection to Stan Lee**, to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man,”

what is it going to take for stan lee media to get it in their crazy minds that one they don’t own any claims to the marvel characters for they were all work for hire when stan lee created them for marvel he had no claim to them at all. including the trademarks or copy rights. hope disney wins and once and for all puts an end to this noncenss of stan lee media

PietroMaximoff

March 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm

how dumb u have to be to believe you can win a case against Marvel.. or against Disney! come on!

For those of you who are confused about WHO is suing Marvel/Disney…google Peter F. Paul. He’s a complete scumbag and he is the one behind all of this.

Let me explain this once again: it’s not about SLM seeking ownership of Spider-Man, it’s be impossible to win that case, they’re just pestering Marvel/Disney until they get tired and/or bored and land a settlement so that they can go away with some $$$$, they’re so in-debt at this point that they’re hoping for any sort of monetary reward. But hopefully Marvel/Disney dont give in and just bury SLM.

It’s a shame every time this case gets brought up Stan keeps getting mistakenly ID’d as the one filing the suit when he’s got nothing to do with it, and how low are these scumbags that still call themselves “Stan Lee Media” when Stan’s got nothing to do with them for years now.

Geez. They don’t own anything. End of story. It’s bad enough they can still use Stan Lee’s name.

@ Rollo : thanks for the info. I guess I didn’t know he’s no longer associated with them.

Even given what some consider Marvel’s generous behavior to Stan Lee the man & the public figure, whoever was in charge of Marvel or its holders would have to be drugged to let popular Ready-to-License characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, et al. Take a look at earlier news stories to Marvel fighting the claims of other creators like Marv Wolfman or the estate/heirs of Jack Kirby, or even the grief DC has given the estates of Siegel & Shuster (and at least one of the lawyers), and you can see how tenaciously comics companies will hold on to characters that were made back in the days were Work For Hire was all there was & Not up for negotiation. Whatever regard Marvel holds Stan Lee in, if some e-corporate jackasses believes that he EVER had anything close to full ownership of those characters or got some as “payment”, said jackasses shouldn’t be allowed to run, finance or trade anything.

Another BORING litigation over nothing at all. NUFF SAID!

Rodrian Roadeye

May 27, 2014 at 9:57 pm

The whole idea of copyrights and patents in the US needs an overhaul. Disney has retained the rights to a certain Mouse for years, music companies refile rights to popular songs over and over again, and how many formats will people buy Dark Side of the Moon in? Every time a new tech in sound or movies, aka, 3-D, 5-channel surround, these moguls make profits recycling some poor artist they screwed out of royalties years ago. Fantasy records and Creedence comes to mind. Just how long should any company, artist, or movie lay exclusive claim to sole ownership? The fact is that it has been too long, and we need to shorten the time allowing exclusivity. Disney releases it’s films every so often and then locks them away in a vault until it decides another generation should shell out dollars for an age of entertainment that it claims rights to. How long can they do this? In perpetuity? Something needs to be done to break up such conglomerate behavior and restore rights after shorter terms to the public domain.

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