Stan Lee Media sues Marvel
Oh, how I love financial and legal shenanigans. Stan Lee Media has one of the messier histories in the dot-com boom and bust, with tales of stock manipulation and attempted bribes to Bill and Hillary Clinton by partner Peter Paul. And it looks like we aren’t done yet.
Fresh out of bankruptcy, Stan Lee Media, Inc. filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment yesterday in US District Court in NY. In the suit, as reported by Marvel, Stan Lee Media claims it is shares co-ownership of some of Marvel’s superhero characters. Marvel says the suit is without merit.
The suit claims that Stan Lee throughout his employment with Marvel retained the co-creator rights to all his characters, and in August 1998 when Marvel terminated Stan’s employment, he regained those rights. Stan then went and formed the dotcom firm Stan Lee Media as a way to tap into the Internet boom, and on October 15, 1998, he signed over not only his creations to the new firm, but his likeness as well. Then in November, 1998, Lee individually entered an employment agreement with Marvel, signing over his Marvel characters and likeness to Marvel, despite having already signed over the rights to Stan Lee Media. The suit claims Stan Lee Media informed Marvel of their contract and that Marvel "independently and/or in collusion with Stan Lee, intentionally concealed the material terms" of Marvel’s new agreement from Stan Lee Media, the public and its own shareholders, and that Stan Lee Media is entitled to 50 percent of all revenue going back three years and going forward 50 years. (By law, they can only go back three years, not as far as 1998.)
To make matters even more confusing, Stan the Man himself is no longer affiliated with the recently emerged from bankruptcy Stan Lee Media. In fact, Stan and his current company, POW Entertainment (makers of Who Wants To Be A Superhero?) is suing the principals in Stan Lee Media alleging that they illegally took over his former company and infringed on his trademarks and copyrights. Stan has said that, “I do not support this action and believe the suit to be baseless.”