×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.”

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Global Screen Nabs ‘Amazing Maurice,’ Based

    Global Screen Picks Up ‘The Amazing Maurice,’ Based on Terry Pratchett’s Novel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global Screen has picked up worldwide distribution rights, excluding North America, the U.K. and German-speaking territories, to the English-language animated feature “The Amazing Maurice,” based on a Terry Pratchett novel. The screenplay has been written by Terry Rossio, Oscar-nominated for “Shrek.” Rossio’s credits also include the animated movie “Aladdin” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” [...]

  • Yoji Yamada-directed film is to open

    Tokyo Market: Shochiku Launches Horror, Comedy and Mystery Lineup

    Major Japanese studio, Shochiku has the honor of leading off next week’s Tokyo International Film Festival with its “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.” The film is a revival of a beloved in-house drama franchise, directed by veteran Yoji Yamada, that is set as the event’s opening night gala presentation. Before that, the company has the [...]

  • The Truth

    Singapore Festival to Focus on Asian Excellence for 30th Edition

    For its 30th edition the Singapore International Film Festival has avoided programming novelty and instead focused on assembling excellence – mostly indie titles — from Asia and further afield. The festival, which previously announced local filmmaker Anthony Chen’s second feature “Wet Season” as its opening night gala presentation, announced the balance of its programming on [...]

  • Isabela Moner Dora the Explorer

    Film News Roundup: Isabela Merced Boards Jason Momoa's 'Sweet Girl' for Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, Isabela Merced get cast opposite Jason Momoa, “Starbright” gets financing and AFM announces its speakers. CASTING Isabela Merced, formerly Isabela Moner, has come on board to portray the daughter of Jason Momoa in his upcoming revenge thriller “Sweet Girl” for Netflix. Momoa will play a devastated man who vows to [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content