Photo: Marvel / Disney
Ever since Disney bought Marvel and its some 5,000 characters for $4 billion in 2009, the company has earned profits off Stan Lee’s many characters in the form of action figures, toys, costumes, and a little film called “The Avengers.” However, one company claims Disney has no right to any of the characters.
Now, Stan Lee Media Inc. (SLMI), formerly affiliated with Lee, filed a complaint in the district court of Colorado claiming it, not The Walt Disney Company, own the rights to any and all of Stan Lee’s characters including the very profitable “Avengers” gang which earned Disney more than $1 billion at theatres worldwide.
According to the complaint filed, the Colorado based SLMI claims Stan Lee assigned copyrights for all Marvel properties and characters over to it in October 1998, before signing them over to Marvel Enterprises Inc. one month later.
From the complaint:
“Oddly, in November, 1998, Stan Lee signed a written agreement with Marvel Enterprises, Inc. in which he purportedly assigned to Marvel the rights to the Characters. However, Lee no longer owned those rights since they had been assigned to SLEI previously. Accordingly, the Marvel agreement actually assigned nothing.”
SLMI goes on to claim Disney’s purchase of the Marvel characters in December 2009 means nothing since ownership was allegedly never really transferred from SLMI in the first place.
The company is seeking damages of $5.5 billion for copyright infringement citing Disney’s use characters “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “X-Men: First Class,” “The Avengers,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” in films amounting to box office receipts of $3.5 billion (some of which are produced by Sony and Universal) and other merchandising (including Broadway show “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”) amounting to an estimated revenue of $2 billion.
This isn’t the first time SLMI has cried true ownership of Lee’s Marvel characters.
The company went after Lee himself for $5 billion after going into bankruptcy.
The case was dismissed in July on the basis of res judicata which prevents any further lawsuit on similar claims that were previously raised.
That ruling is currently on appeal questioning the ruling.
Read the complaint HERE.
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