Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Let’s clear up something right off the bat: while Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee created the company Stan Lee Media Inc. in the ’90s, he has nothing to do with the company now. The end of the dot-com bubble caused the end of Stan Lee Media as an operating entity by December 2000. Peter Paul, co-founder of the company with Lee, even went to jail in 2009 for securities fraud related to actions with the company.
So when you read that Stan Lee Media is suing Disney for alleged copyright infringement based on the use of characters generally considered to be under the ownership of Marvel, understand that Stan “The Man” Lee is not filing the lawsuit.
Now, on to the details. Warning: they’re ridiculous.
The short form, as THR and Deadline attempt to summarize, is this: SLMI alleges that Stan Lee gave the company rights to all his major Marvel characters, and that despite a clear contract in the late ’90s, Lee didn’t properly give those rights to Marvel. And anyway he could not have, as the rights weren’t his to give at the time. So SLMI really deserves the profits Marvel and Disney have been making off characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and various Avengers. So just back a couple trucks full of billions of dollars right over here, please.
(SLMI also says the Disney/Marvel merger was improperly done and so doesn’t exist, and so the company should be getting billions and billions of Marvel character revenue.)
The company has filed quite a few other lawsuits over the past few years, and hasn’t been successful. Chances are this one won’t be successful either, in part because the allegations in this suit could have been addressed in previous lawsuits, and either weren’t or were dismissed by judges at the time. The short form is that the current controlling interests of Stan Lee Media, Inc. are trying a blatant cash grab and aren’t likely to get a dime. But it’s fun to watch.