The mantra over at Stan Lee Media Inc must be “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Certainly that is its legal strategy. Almost three months after a federal judge in Colorado granted Disney’s request for dismissal of SLMI’s multibillion-dollar Marvel superhero copyright suit, the company is back in Pennsylvania court this week claiming it owns the rights to Spider-Man. “In response to Disney’s Spider-Man claims and/or in response to [American Music Theater's] counterclaims and third-party claims, SLMI respectfully seeks a declaratory judgment … that Disney cannot bar SLMI from using or licensing the Spider-Man copyrights and trademarks by virtue of the fact that SLMI (not Disney) is the owner of various copyrights and trademarks regarding Spider-Man and has properly licensed the copyrights and trademarks to AMT,” says the third-party defendant paperwork (read it here) filed Tuesday.
EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Conan The Barbarian finally has one less foe to face. Two years and two months after the litigious Stan Lee Media sued Conan rights owners Paradox Entertainment for the rights back to the character, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today pretty much slew their case. And by the way, just so everyone is clear, Stan Lee has nothing to do with the company that bears his name and hasn’t for well over a decade. Having said that, after hearing arguments on October 9, Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw, Richard Tallman and Harry Pregerson all quickly and strongly agreed (read it here) with District Court Judge Stephen Wilson’s February 2012 dismissal of SLMI’s suit against Paradox, its CEO Fredrik Malmberg, Lee’s longtime now-deceased lawyer, Arthur Leiberman’s estate and others. “The ruling confirms what we have said all along: This was a meritless and frivolous lawsuit to cash in on others’ hard work. I’m glad that two courts agree,” Malmberg told me today.
The Walt Disney Company has called Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit “flawed beyond cure.” In a motion to dismiss (read it here) filed last week, the company mocks SLMI’s legal claims that it actually owns rights to all the Marvel characters created by Stan Lee. “There is no conceivable basis on which Plaintiff can state a viable copyright claim against TWDC in this Court, or for that matter, any other,” the Disney motion says. “In sum, against the backdrop of Plaintiff’s six prior unsuccessful litigations on this topic, express judicial displeasure with Plaintiff clogging the courts with a repeated invocation of rights it does not possess, and the fact that TWDC conducts no business activities other than those of a holding company, this lawsuit is completely frivolous and should be dismissed,” Disney added. SLMI wants the profits from the $5.5 billion it says that Disney made from Marvel superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Lee, who no longer has anything to do with the company. The November 30 motion to dismiss, like the initial suit by SLMI in October, was filed in Colorado.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. wants the profits from the $5.5 billion it says the Walt Disney Company has made from superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Stan Lee. Those characters include Iron Man, Spider-Man, most of The Avengers, The X-Men and more. “Defendant The Walt Disney Company has represented to the public that it, in fact, owns the copyright to these characters as well as to hundreds of other characters created by Stan Lee. Those representations made to the public by The Walt Disney Company are false,” says the company’s copyright infringement complaint filed today (read it here) in a Colorado court. SLMI, which Lee himself has nothing to do with nowadays, is seeking “the maximum statutory damages allowable” plus full control over Iron Man, Spider-Man and other characters. A failed party to past litigation with Lee himself and Marvel, SLMI also is seeking a jury trial in this case.