Marvel Comics has released a press release stating that Stan Lee Media Inc has filed a lawsuit against the comic book giant for lost revenue. It claims that nine years ago, when Lee founded the company, he transferred over rights of specific characters he created at Marvel Comics. Lee himself, no longer associated with Stan Lee Media, has denied any merit to the case. STLMI is claiming ownership to such venerable properties as Spider-Man and The X-Men.
The story broke on VFX World, which explained, “The suit claims that Stan Lee throughout his employment with Marvel retained the co-creator rights to all his characters. In Aug. 1998 when Marvel terminated Stan Lee’s employment, he regained those rights. Lee then went and formed the dotcom firm Stan Lee Media as a way to tap into the Internet boom. On Oct. 15, 1998, he signed over not only his creations to the new firm, but his likeness as well. Then in Nov. 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.”
Marvel’s official response is listed below.
Official Press Release
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), reported that a claim was filed today in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by Stan Lee Media, Inc. The claim against Marvel Entertainment alleges that nine years ago Stan Lee transferred to Stan Lee Media ownership of a number of Marvel comic book characters he co-created. Marvel believes that the claim against it is without merit and that it will prevail in this dispute.
Stan Lee Media was recently in bankruptcy and is being sued by Stan Lee. In his suit, Mr. Lee is challenging the legitimacy of the management of Stan Lee Media. Mr. Lee is a long-time employee of Marvel and its predecessor companies and currently serves as Publisher Emeritus of Marvel Comics. Mr. Lee commented that, “I do not support this action and believe the suit to be baseless.”