Stan Lee Media Sues Disney Over Marvel Character Rights

By Katey Rich 2012-10-11 07:36:11discussion comments
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Almost everyone with even a passing interest in comic books knows that Stan Lee is the creator of many of Marvel's biggest characters, and former president of the enormous comics company. So when you first hear that a company called Stan Lee Media has filed a lawsuit against Disney, which currently has the screen rights to the majority of Marvel's characters, you might assume this is the case of a true creator and visionary fighting to win back the rights to his own characters from the big bad corporate devil.

While it's true that Stan Lee Media has filled a multibillion dollar lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company, as reported by The Los Angeles Times the truth of the matter is a lot more complicated. Lee hasn't been involved in the company that bears his name since 2001, when it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and several of its officers were accused of stock manipulation. In fact, Stan Lee Media filed a lawsuit against Lee himself, and his newer company POW! Entertainment, back in 2007. And SLM has also gone a previous round of lawsuits with Marvel Entertainment, now based at Disney, filing suit against them in 2007 with essentially the same claim that the contract Lee signed with them in 1998 supersedes the contract he signed just a few weeks later with Marvel, and the rights to all his characters belong to SLM, not Marvel.

Lee disagrees-- of the 2007 suit he said "I do not support this action and believe the suit to be baseless." And Disney is making the same claim this time around, telling the Times "This lawsuit is without merit, it arises out of the same core facts and legal claims that have been rejected by three federal district court judges." Stan Lee Media has not yet won a case they've filed against the heavyweights like Marvel Entertainment and POW! Entertainment, and it seems unlikely they'll win this time, especially with a bigwig like Disney in the picture. Yes, it's definitely a David and Goliath story, but based on what Lee himself has claimed he supports in previous years, it sounds like Goliath is in the right this time.
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