Stan Lee Media Sues Disney to Recover Copyrights to Comic Book Characters Spider Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, X-Men, Fantastic Four & Avengers

Stan Lee Media Sues Disney to Recover Copyrights to Comic Book Characters Spider Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, X-Men, Fantastic Four & Avengers

Last week, Stan Lee Media, Inc. (SLMI) sued The Walt Disney Company for copyright infringement. Stan Lee created many of Marvel Comics' most famous characters, including Spider Man, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and most of The Avengers. Disney has used these characters in the motion pictures Iron Man 2 (May, 2010), Thor (May, 2011), X-Men: First Class (June, 2011) Marvel's The Avengers (May, 2012) and The Amazing Spider Man (July, 2012). Those motion pictures have generated box office receipts to date in excess of $3.5 billion.

The complaint alleges that:

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.

SLMI attacks the validity of Lee's written agreement with Marvel (Disney's predecessor-in-interest) in which Lee purportedly assigned his rights to the characters. According the complaint, at the time of the agreement, Lee no longer owned those rights as they had been previously assigned. Thus, the Marvel agreement assigned nothing.

Read the complaint filed in Stan Lee Media, Inc. vs. The Walt Disney Company, 12-02663 (D. Colo. 10/9/12)

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