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Spiderman Caught in a Web of Copyrights: Stan Lee Media Sues Disney

Stan Lee Media has filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Company over the rights to use Stan Lee’s comic book characters like Spider Man and Iron Man. The lawsuit seeks “billions of dollars of profits” for alleged unauthorized use of Stan Lee’s characters.

The lawsuit alleges, “The Walt Disney Company has represented to the public that it, in fact, owns the copyright to these characters as well as hundreds of other characters created by Stan Lee … Those representations made to the public by the Walt Disney Company are false.”

In its turn, Walt Disney Co. issued a statement saying, “This lawsuit is without merit … It arises out of the same core facts ad legal claims that have been rejected by three federal district court judges.”

Stan Lee Media, which was allegedly created in 1999, is determined to “sue to recover damages to its assets,” and has been in continual litigation dating from 2001, both over the usage of Lee’s characters, as well as over its corporate governance issues. There have also been lawsuits between Lee, the company, and its shareholders.

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In the instant lawsuit, Stan Lee Media claims that it owns the rights “to the billions of dollars that Disney has generated, or allowed others to generate.” It focused on the more than $3.5 billion made from motion pictures, and an estimated $2 billion made from “other media” including the Broadway Show “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark.”

Disney had purchased Marvel Enterprises and renamed it to Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Stan Lee Media contends that Lee had assigned the rights to his comic book characters to the company in 1998, but after a month had again assigned the same rights to Marvel Enterprises.

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