Notoriously litigious Stan Lee Media Inc couldn’t have thought that Disney would respond to its latest Marvel character rights grab in a placid manner, so the company shouldn’t be surprised by the legal hit to the jugular that the House Mickey Built just gave it in federal court over Spider-Man. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. “Making SLMI’s patently frivolous ownership claims [American Music Theater's] defense to a straightforward copyright infringement suit gets neither of them anywhere,” says the March 21 reply (read it here) to the SMLI’s opposition to Disney Enterprises’ motion to dismiss the company from its copyright case against AMT. “This Court should now end this SLMI-financed frolic and detour once and for all,” adds the filing in federal court in Pennsylvania, noting that the intervention lacks any merit to succeed. Last week’s reply comes just under two weeks after SLMI aggressively responded to Disney’s motion to throw them off the media giant’s copyright case against AMT over its allegedly unauthorized use of Spider-Man in its regional show Broadway: Now & Forever. A month after being hauled into court by Disney last September, AMT claimed that it got the rights to Spidey from rights holder SLMI. In December, SLMI, who had lost a claim in federal court in Colorado on several Marvel characters and the multibillion-dollar profits from them just a couple of months …
Despite Disney’s best legal efforts, perpetually litigious Stan Lee Media Inc is not going quietly into the Pennsylvania night with its claims to Spider-Man. Today SLMI fired back at the media giant’s attempts to shut it down once and for all last month with assertions of time-barred claims and the fact that it is a dissolved corporation. “It is Disney’s burden to prove Disney’s ownership of the copyrights to Spider‐Man. Prior litigation cannot bar [American Music Theater], and concomitantly SLMI, from defending itself by showing Disney’s assertion is wrong,” says the dense and exhibit heavy filing in federal court in the Keystone State (read it here). “No judge has decided that Disney actually owns the Spider‐Man copyrights or, for that matter, that SLMI does not own the copyrights,” adds the opposition to Disney Enterprises’ motion to dismiss SLMI from its copyright case against American Music Theater. AMT also filed paperwork (read it here) in opposition to Disney’s motion to toss its counterclaims and SLMI from the case. This latest kick at the can by the repeatedly defeated SLMI over its claims over various Marvel characters created by Stan Lee — who no longer has anything to do with the company that bears his name — seems certainly to clog up the courts for at least a little while longer.
Not a lot of love at Diece-Lisa Industries for Disney or Toy Story 3, it seems. Yesterday, the toymaker sued Disney Enterprises in a Texas federal court for trademark infringement and unfair competition. Like it did in previous filings against Disney Shopping Inc and QVC last year and Pixar in 2012, the New Jersey company is claiming that the devious Lotso character featured in 2010’s Toy Story 3 is too similar to the “Lots of Hugs” technology and stuffed bears it has produced since the mid-1990s and re-trademarked in 2007. While not quite saying Disney knew of its product directly, the filing (read it here) this week notes that Diece-Lisa licensed the hugging tech to products related to the Jim Henson Company’s Bear In The Big Blue House TV series — which was sold to Disney in 2004. Noting the box office success of the Toy Story sequel from Pixar and the $7 billion is has made in merch, Diece-Lisa wants unspecified damages as well as an injunction stopping Disney from future use of the character and declarations from the court as to its rights.
The other cases have been weaving their way through the courts, with Pixar being dropped as a defendant in one of them in late 2012. Still, with Disney Enterprises as its latest defendant, Diece-Lisa is determined that the Toy Story 3 character has caught consumers in a retail bear hug.