Inside Move: Tangled legal web spun by SPE, Marvel

Judge to decide whether case will be made public

What’s gotten Marvel’s tights in a knot? We’ll find out Monday. Maybe.

At the end of February, Marvel Enterprises lodged a complaint against Sony Pictures Entertainment over a licensing agreement stemming from the blockbuster “Spider-Man.” The complaint was lodged under seal.

Friday, Sony responded by filing a motion to seal all records and proceedings in the case. That motion was also filed under seal. Variety and the Daily Journal have brought forward a motion to unseal the motion and the complaint.

“We appeared today to inform the court that we the media intended to oppose the motion, but would like a copy of the motion before filing our opposition,” said Bonnie Eskenazi, a partner in Greenburg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, who represents Variety and the Daily Journal in the case.

At a status conference held Tuesday morning at Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Alexander H. Williams said he would decide Monday as to whether the media will be able to get a copy of motion.

Williams’ comments suggested unsealing was likely. The judge said he was a strong believer in the First Amendment and offered a quote from newspaperman H. L. Mencken: “Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking.”

Said Williams, “It’s very hard to persuade this court to do anything in private.”

While the session revealed no specifics of the complaint, Sony attorney Patty Glaser suggested Marvel was trying to gain leverage in a negotiation by having the case made public.

Marvel attorney Carole Handler of O’Donnell & Shaeffer dismissed the idea as “rank speculation.”

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