Legal Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Deadmau5 responds to Disney, reveals fallout of trademark fight

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When we last left Deadmau5, the world-famous DJ/producer was publicly accusing Disney of copyright infringement in retaliation for the entertainment giant’s effort to block the trademark for his signature “mau5head” logo. At 171 pages, the company’s notice of opposition was certainly thorough, but that’s nothing compared to the DJ’s formal response.

Hollywood Esq. reports that on Monday, Deadmau5 filed more than 1,000 pages — when you take exhibits into account — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, addressing not only the drier issues of whether his logo might be confused with Disney’s famed mouse ears, but also some considerably more interesting matters.

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Stan Lee Media fights to resurrect lawsuit against Stan Lee

stan leeStan Lee Media was back in court on Thursday, seeking to revive its lawsuit against co-founder and namesake Stan Lee for millions in profits and ownership of his Marvel co-creations.

Law 360 reports the failed dot com argued before a panel of the Ninth Circuit that the case shouldn’t have been dismissed in 2012 by a California federal judge simply because an identical action in New York was determined two years earlier to be time-barred. However, Lee’s attorney countered that the lead plaintiff in both shareholder actions was Jose Abadin, president of Stan Lee Media.

The backstory is familiar by now to ROBOT 6 readers, but here’s the CliffsNotes version: In 1998, during Marvel’s bankruptcy, CEO Isaac Perlmutter briefly ended its $1-million-a-year lifetime contract with Lee, freeing the legendary creator to form Stan Lee Entertainment, which later merged with Stan Lee Media. That company in turned filed for bankruptcy in February 2001; just four months after SLM emerged from protection in November 2006, shareholders filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Marvel.

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Supreme Court won’t intervene in Shuster-DC fight over Superman

Action Comics #1The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to intervene in the copyright dispute between the Joe Shuster Estate and DC Comics, effectively ending the long, and frequently bitter, battle over who owns Superman.

By denying the estate’s petition, the justices let stand a November 2013 ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Shuster’s nephew is prevented by a 1992 agreement with DC from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the first Superman story under a clause of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act.

At issue was a now 22-year-old deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to the property in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October 2012, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary. Less than three months later, the Ninth Circuit overturned a 2008 decision granting the heirs of Jerry Siegel the writer’s 50-percent share of the copyright to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1.

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Marvel-Kirby dispute is over, but larger copyright issues remain

jack kirbyLaw.com has an interesting follow-up to the surprise settlement last week in the five-year-old legal battle between Marvel and Jack Kirby’s heirs, noting that the larger copyright issue at its center remain unresolved.

The children of the legendary artist filed 45 copyright-termination notices in September 2009, seeking to reclaim what they saw as their father’s stake in such Marvel characters as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk. Marvel, joined by its then-new parent company Disney, responded with a lawsuit, setting the dispute down a path that ultimately saw the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirm Kirby’s contributions to the publisher between 1959 and 1963 were “work for hire,” and therefore not subject to copyright termination.

Under a clause in the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, which extended the duration of copyright, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights transferred before 1978 after a period of 56 years. However, if a work is determined to be “for hire,” meaning it was created by an employee as part of his employment or specially commissioned as part of a larger work, then the publisher (or movie studio, record label, etc.) owns the copyright, and it is not subject to termination.

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‘Asterix’ co-creator Albert Uderzo ends feud with daughter

albert uderzoThe bitter, drawn-out legal battle between Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo and his daughter Sylvie has at last come to an end, the two announced today.

According to Agence France-Presse, they said in a joint statement that they are “reunited again and determined to make a clean sweep of the grievances raised by both sides.” Any existing legal complaints will be dropped.

The dispute dates back to at least 2007, when Sylvie and her husband Bernard de Choizy were dismissed from their senior positions at Les Éditions Albert René, the publishing company Albert founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye two years later, when Sylvie criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death.

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Salt Lake convention formally responds to ‘Comic Con’ lawsuit

salt-lake2014After first responding with press releases and a webpage, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers have now formally denied claims that their use of the term “Comic Con” infringes upon Comic-Con International’s trademark.

Comic-Con International sued the Utah event last month, insisting organizers were attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of “Comic Con.” The lawsuit specifically cited a customized Audi sent to San Diego during Comic-Con International to promote the Sept. 4-6 Salt Lake City convention.

In documents filed Monday in federal court in San Diego, Salt Lake producers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg argue Comic-Con International’s asserted trademarks are invalid, and that “comic-con” and “comic con” are generic terms applied to comic conventions. They point to 10 other conventions that use some variation of the term, and note that SDCC has never taken action against them. The defendants ask for Comic-Con International’s trademarks to be ruled invalid and canceled.

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Deadmau5 fires back, accusing Disney of copyright infringement

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Bristling for a fight with Disney over its bid to prevent him from trademarking his signature mouse-head logo, DJ/producer Deadmau5 has wasted no time in returning fire.

Rolling Stone reports the progressive-house performer is accusing the entertainment giant of using one of his songs in an animated short without permission. Linking to a Disney.com video featuring footage from classic Mickey Mouse cartoons set to the tune of Deadmau5’s 2009 track “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff,” the DJ tweeted, “Okay mouse, I never gave Disney a liscene [sic] to use my track. So. we emailed you a C&D.”

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Disney tries to block Deadmau5 logo trademark

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Disney is attempting to prevent DJ/producer Deadmau5 from trademarking his signature mouse-head logo, claiming it’s too similar to the iconic Mickey Mouse silhouette. Signs that the entertainment giant would oppose the application surfaced in late March.

In a staggering 171-page notice of opposition filed Tuesday with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and first reported by TMZ, Disney traces its use of the familiar imagery back to “at least 1928,” with the introduction of Mickey in Steamboat Willie. Disney news site Stitch Kingdom has more details about the filing, in which the company argues the mouse ears have been a key element of its consumer products “at least as early as 1955″ (that’s the year The Mickey Mouse Club premiered on television).

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SD Convention Center expansion goes back to drawing board

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San Diego City Council decided Tuesday it won’t appeal a court ruling that struck down the hotel tax devised to fund most of the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

That leaves the financing “up in the air,” council President Todd Gloria told City News Service after the unanimous vote. “It means we’re going to have to spend some time figuring out a way to pay for this project or find a new one.”

In short, as Scott Lewis writes on Voice of San Diego, after six years and $10 million, the expansion plan is dead.

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San Diego City Council to meet about convention center ruling

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San Diego City Council will meet this afternoon in a closed session to discuss whether to appeal a recent California appeals court ruling that cripples the funding plan for the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

According to City News Service, council members don’t necessarily have to reach a decision today — although City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told them earlier this month that they have until Sept. 10 to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of California. Before any action is taken, however, an open session will be held to allow the public to offer input.

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Trial set for December in death of elderly comic collector

Rico J. Vendetti

Rico J. Vendetti

A Rochester, New York, businessman will stand trial for murder in December in the 2010 death of an elderly comic book collector.

According to the Batavia, New York, Daily News, the trial of Rico J. Vendetti is scheduled for Dec. 5 in U.S. District Court in Buffalo. Dates still haven’t been set for his four co-defendants.

Vendetti is accused of hiring seven people to steal the valuable comics collection of 77-year-old Homer Marciniak of Medina, New York. According to police and prosecutors, when Marciniak awoke during the July 5, 2010, burglary, he was beaten and knocked to the floor. They burglars fled with the comics, safes, cash, coins and guns.

Although Marciniak suffered only cuts and bruises from the attack, and was able to give a statement to police, he died hours later from a heart attack.

Vendetti, who owned a collectibles store, was arrested along with seven others within a few months. The U.S. Attorney stepped in to file murder charges against Vendetti and four of his co-defendants, arguing that the burglary led to Marciniak’s death.

He’s also accused of racketeering and witness tampering.

Ed Kramer didn’t violate plea deal, district attorney determines

ed kramerEd Kramer’s social-media activity didn’t violate the terms of his plead agreement, meaning he isn’t headed back to jail just yet. However, Gwinnett County (Georgia) District Attorney Danny Porter indicated it’s only a matter of time before the DragonCon co-founder makes a misstep.

“He’s very adept at the Internet … and he’s going to test us at every opportunity,” Porter told Atlanta’s WSB-AM last week.  “So it’s still my belief that before this is all over, he’s going to violate his probation and I’m going to have him in prison.”

The D.A. began an investigation last month into Kramer’s online activity after reports circulated that his Twitter account was being followed by a 14-year-old girl and his Google+ page showed a connection to the then-14-year-old boy he was found with in a Connecticut hotel room in 2011.

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San Diego has until Sept. 10 to appeal convention center ruling

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San Diego City Council recessed for summer break Thursday without deciding how to respond to a state appeals court ruling that the plan to finance the $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel ruled last week that the room surcharge, approved two years ago by hoteliers and City Council, has to be put to a citywide vote. The financing scheme, which would have added another 1 cent to 3 cents per dollar to room taxes, was expected to generate about $35 million annually.

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Man sentenced for insider trading in Disney-Marvel deal

disney-marvel-logoA San Francisco man was sentenced Thursday to three months in federal prison and ordered to pay $122,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to using insider information to make big bucks in Disney’s purchase of Marvel.

Law360 reports that in 2009, Toby G. Scammell was told by his girlfriend, a Disney extern working on the Marvel acquisition, that the entertainment giant was planning to buy a company “people would recognize right away.” Using her work schedule and their vacation plans, he was able to deduce when the deal would likely close, and learned from his then-employer — a consulting firm that had been contracted by Disney on occasion — that the company was interested in Marvel.

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Randy Queen: ‘I reacted without thinking’ to art critiques

queen darkchyldeWidely ridiculed this week for filing copyright takedown notices and threatening legal action against a blog that criticized his artwork, Darkchylde creator Randy Queen now acknowledges his response “was the wrong one to take.”

“I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind,” he explained this morning in a Facebook post. “There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.”

Queen had taken exception to critiques of some of his Darkchylde work on Escher Girls, a blog devoted to examining the way women are depicted in “illustrated pop media,” including comics. He sent Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to Tumblr alleging copyright infringement in nine posts containing his covers. Entire posts, rather than just the images, were removed by the company.

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