Judge Throws Out Stan Lee Media Suit Claiming Copyrights To Marvel Characters
In what may be the last volley in what's been a confusing and lengthy legal battle, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez has dismissed Stan Lee Media's lawsuit against Disney, in which the company named for, but which no longer has any association with, the co-creator of many Marvel Comics characters claimed copyrights to those properties.
Lee and his namesake company parted ways more than a decade ago, but SLM claimed that the writer signed over any rights he had to his creations in October 1998 in exchange for company stock. Therefore, SLM argued, an agreement Lee signed with Marvel the following month, giving the publisher the rights to all those characters, was worthless.
The judge wasn't hearing it. Martinez barred SLM from re-litigating its ownership rights from the 1998 agreement ever again. He wrote in his order dismissing the case:
Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts.
The court's decision comes less than a month after the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the family of Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who co-created many of Marvel's characters with Lee, can claim no rights to the characters because they were created under work-for-hire agreements.