Placing what very well could be the final lump of coal in Stan Lee Media's stocking, another federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the failed dot-com can't claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by its namesake.
As ROBOT 6 readers are well aware, the litigious shareholders of Stan Lee Media have long insisted that between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Stan Lee's $1 million-a-year lifetime contract, and November 1998, when he entered into a new agreement, the legendary writer signed over to Stan Lee Entertainment (later Stan Lee Media) his likeness and the rights to all of the characters he co-created.
The company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2001, has accused Lee of colluding with his late partner Arthur Lieberman, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and former Marvel Studios President Avi Arad to hide and misappropriate financial interests in his creations.
All of those claims have been denied over the better part of a decade by Marvel, Lee and Disney, and repeatedly rejected by courts in multiple jurisdictions -- most recently in back-to-back rulings in late October by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and a federal judge in Philadelphia.
And now, Courthouse News Service reports, the 10th Circuit has added its voice to the chorus, affirming the 2013 dismissal by a Los Angeles federal judge of a billion-dollar copyright-infringement lawsuit against Disney, and supporting the Ninth Circuit's finding that Stan Lee Media has failed to show Lee ever transferred his rights to the company.
Further, the three-judge panel determined the issue of ownership has already been settled by other courts, and may not be relitigated.
Stan Lee Media’s legal efforts, which have been wholly unsuccessful to date, are backed by a group of investors that includes the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management.