Disney files federal motion to end Stan Lee Media's fight over Marvel Heroes
(CBR) After being pursued in court over the past seven years by Stan Lee Media, Marvel and its corporate parent Disney have had enough: On Valentine’s Day, the companies asked a federal judge to put a stop to the failed dot-com’s dogged claims of ownership of Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and other lucrative characters.
Filed Friday in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Hollywood, Esq., the motion to dismiss comes as part of what began in September as a seemingly straightforward copyright- and trademark-infringement lawsuit involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and "The Lion King" in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre.
However, as Disney states in its filing, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” with the surprising assertion in November from the theater that it had licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (it should be noted the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That conveniently opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to its co-founder and namesake, to sue Disney on Feb. 7, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, other characters co-created by Stan Lee.
“AMT has conspired with SLMI to relitigate issues utterly irrelevant to this dispute by asserting that it has a license from SLMI to use the Spider-Man character,” Disney charges in its motion. “SLMI is actually a dissolved company whose sole activity appears to be litigating — and repeatedly losing — claims that it owns the copyrights to characters that Marvel has owned and openly exploited for decades, including Spider-Man.”
Indeed, Stan Lee Media has yet to win any of the numerous lawsuits filed since 2006 in an effort to reclaim properties the company claims were improperly lost during its bankruptcy. (Marvel and Disney haven’t been the only targets: An appeals court last year denied SLM’s bid for the rights to the Conan characters, which were purchased in 2000 but then sold two years later, shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy.)
As ROBOT 6 readers know, Stan Lee Media is nothing if not tenacious; it hasn’t been deterred by either repeated losses nor a warning in September from a clearly annoyed federal judge that any attempt to amend its previous lawsuit against Disney would be “futile.” But SLM maintains that none of the earlier rulings has directly addressed its ownership claims, and in the American Music Theatre licensing dispute, the company apparently sees another pathway to reach the outcome it seeks.
And, as Hollywood, Esq., notes, SLM has some deep pockets to draw from — an investment group backed by the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management — allowing the company to continue its pursuit of the Marvel characters.
However, in its motion, Disney asserts that not only have four federal courts precluded SLM from relitigating its ownership of the copyrights based on its 1998 agreement with Stan Lee, but that SLM’s claims are barred by a three-year statute of limitations. In short, Disney says, the dot-com had known “since its earliest transactions personally with Stan Lee” that Marvel asserted ownership to Spider-Man and the writer’s other co-creations, and could have raised objections at that time.
What’s more, Disney says, Stan Lee Media is an “administratively dissolved corporation that lacks the capacity to license.”
Copyright © 2014 Comic Book Resources. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
1999 | Documentary | RSummary: AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man's quest for the American D...Director: Chris Smith
Cast: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels
2014 | War | RSummary: After returning home from an extended tour in Afghanistan, a decorated U.S. Army medic and single mother struggles to rebuild her relationship with her young son.Director: Claudia Myers
Cast: Michelle Monaghan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Pablo Schreiber, Ron Livingston
2011 | Drama | RSummary: A queasy, weird tale of two guys who dream of surviving the apocalypse who are tested when they encounter something their homemade car and flamethrowers can't handle: love.Director: Evan Glodell
Cast: Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman
2010 | Documentary | RSummary: Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington spend a year documenting the hard work and fear that soldiers face while fighting as part of the Second Platoon in Afghanistan. Essential for anyone who wants to see even a bit of what modern war can be like.Director: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Cast: The Men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Juan 'Doc Restrepo, Dan Kearney
1969 | Western | PGSummary: In late 1890s Wyoming, Butch Cassidy is the affable, clever, talkative leader of the outlaw Hole in the Wall Gang. His closest companion is the laconic dead-shot "Sundance Kid". As the west rapidly becomes civilized, the law finally catches up to Butch, Sundance and their gang. Chased doggedly ...Director: George Roy Hill
Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin
1931 | Comedy | GSummary: Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film as the Little Tramp sees the Tramp befriending both a millionaire, and a blind and impoverished flower girl, and finds Chaplin blending impressive pantomime comedy and heartfelt sentiment as he explores their economic differences.Director: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
2013 | Adventure | PGSummary: Good-natured animated film in which a snail obsessed with speed dreams of being a racing champion.Director: David Soren
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph
2014 | Documentary | NRSummary: Over seven decades, actor and activist George Takei journeyed from a World War II internment camp to the helm of the Starship Enterprise, and then to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband, Brad, on a wacky and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
Cast: George Takei, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Let Streaming Genie help you.