×

Disney seeks dismissal of Stan Lee Media suit

SLM has long sought to claim rights to Marvel characters

Seeking to dismiss a suit filed in October, the Walt Disney Co. declared that Stan Lee Media’s effort to claim the rights to Marvel characters, including The Avengers, is “flawed beyond cure.”

Stan Lee Media has sued Marvel Entertainment multiple times without success in an effort to lay claim to the famous characters that its namesake had a hand in creating. In the latest chapter, Stan Lee Media sued Disney, which purchased Marvel in 2009, in a Colorado federal court.

Disney “is a holding company and as such does not conduct business in Colorado or anywhere else,” the company said in a motion to dismiss the suit. “There is no conceivable basis on which the plaintiff can state a viable copyright claim against (the Walt Disney Co.) in this court or, for that matter, any other.”

Among other things, Disney says that Stan Lee Media failed even to specify to which works it claims to own the copyright, instead referring “vaguely” to “comicbook characters…that (Lee) had previously created or would create.”

Popular on Variety

In its suit, Stan Lee Media claims that Lee (who is no longer associated with Stan Lee Media) assigned the copyrights to the characters to a predecessor company in 1998. But in November 1998, the suit contends, Lee signed a written agreement with Marvel Entertainment in which he “purportedly assigned” rights to the characters to Marvel. Because he had already assigned over the characters to Stan Lee Media, Lee “no longer owned those rights” and the Marvel agreement “actually assigned nothing,” its suit states.

Disney emphasizes, however, that Stan Lee Media makes no claim that it registered the works with the Copyright Office. It noted that “at least one court has already found that Marvel owns the copyright rights in these very same ‘best known comicbook characters’ as works made for hire.”

The latter is a reference to efforts to terminate the copyright grant to Marvel characters in a suit filed by the heirs to artist Jack Kirby. That case is currently before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lee has contended that the copyrights he assigned to Marvel were not the same as those he assigned to Stan Lee Media, and U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty ruled in 2010 that a “lifetime” agreement that Lee signed in 1998 was in violation of California labor laws.

More Film

  • Little Women Movie

    'Little Women,' 'Fleabag' Win USC Scripter Awards

    Greta Gerwig’s script for “Little Women” has won the USC Libraries Scripter Award for best movie adaptation and “Fleabag” has taken the television award. The winners were announced Saturday night at USC’s Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library. “Little Women” topped “Dark Waters,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” and “The Two Popes.” All but environmental drama [...]

  • Four Good Days

    'Four Good Days': Film Review

    Addiction, you could say (and I would), has become the central demon that plagues Americans. We’re addicted to everything: alcohol, illegal drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, psychotropic drugs, sugar-bomb soft drinks, processed food, video screens…you name it. In theory, addiction was made for drama, because it rips up the fabric of people’s lives, and that’s intensely dramatic. [...]

  • Netflix backed animated films “Klaus,” left,

    'Klaus,' 'I Lost My Body' Top 47th Annie Awards as Netflix Dominates

    Netflix dominated the 47th Annie Awards on Saturday, Jan. 25, picking up 19 trophies, including the top prizes of best feature (“Klaus”), best feature-independent (“I Lost My Body”), best TV/media production for preschool children (“Ask the Storybots”) and best general audience TV/media production (“BoJack Horseman”). Disney TV Animation’s “Disney Mickey Mouse” won best TV/media production [...]

  • Disney Myth A Frozen Tale

    ‘Frozen 2’-Inspired VR Film ‘Myth’ Creates Beautifully Immersive ‘Fairy Tale Within a Fairy Tale’

    With “Myth: A Frozen Tale,” Disney Animation has crafted a visually stunning virtual-reality short film — a project that flexes its VR muscles but deftly uses the technology in service of storytelling. Sometimes VR experiences feel like proof-of-concepts straining to justify their 3D settings. “Myth,” by contrast, employs virtual reality so effectively it feels like [...]

  • 'Dick Johnson is Dead' Review: Kirsten

    'Dick Johnson is Dead': Film Review

    Death isn’t wasted on the dead, exactly, but much that follows in its black-veiled wake is: A heartfelt eulogy, after all, is often composed of warm words we should have shared with the deceased before they turned cold. Eighties soft-rock band Mike and the Mechanics had a #1 hit with this very observation, of course: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content