Is Disney going to have to give Stan Lee’s old company a share of the 5+ Billion it has made on Marvel Super Heroes? They are hoping that a jury will make it so. Stan Lee’s old company, SLMI is suing Disney, claiming that Lee never had the rights to sign over his creations to Disney when the company purchased Marvel, because Lee had apparently already singed over the rights to SLMI ten years prior.
If a jury finds in favor of SLMI, Disney could be on the hook for a a big chunk of the profits for any project that involved a Stan Lee created character. That means Iron Man, Spider-Man, most of The Avengers, The X-Men … and hundreds more.
Here are the details of the suit, care of Deadline:
In its suit, SLMI says that Lee signed over the rights to comic book characters that he created or would create to its corporate predecessor in October 1998. The comic writer and publisher was paid for the rights in shares in Stan Lee Media, Inc. The shares later proved worthless when the dot-com bubble burst at the end of the 1990s, leaving the company to unsuccessfully seek bankruptcy protection in 2001. In its complaint today, SLMI says an amended version of that October 1998 agreement was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2000, clearly indicating its rights. “Oddly, in November, 1998, Stan Lee signed a written agreement with Marvel Enterprises, Inc. in which he purportedly assigned to Marvel the rights to the Characters. However, Lee no longer owned those rights since they had been assigned to SLEI previously. Accordingly, the Marvel agreement actually assigned nothing,” the suit notes. Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in August 2009 with the deal confirmed at the end of that year. Stan Lee Media Inc. is represented by John McDermott of Denver’s Brownstein Hyatt Faber Schreck and Robert Chapan and Jon-Jamison Hill of Beverly Hills’ Eisner, Kahan & Gorry.