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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