Stan Lee has been issued with a subpoena to provide documents and evidence of correspondence in a case between Stand Lee Media, inc. and Disney.
In the multi Million Dollar law suit, it is alleged that the characters created by Stan Lee and transferred to Marvel, may not have been his to transfer. At the end of December 2000 Stan Lee Media, inc. went bankrupt, but apparently the rights to the characters were signed over to the shareholders.
Since then Disney bought Marvel and the “rights” to the use of the Marvel characters. However it looks like they may have not been owned by Marvel.
Looking back through the history of this case it appears that between Stan Lee Media and Stan Lee Media, Inc. (two different businesses), there has been court battle after court battle. Starting back n January 2007, Lee sued SLMI and Jim Nesfield, who was then running the company, claiming the company was committing $50 million worth of trademark infringement. The latest iteration of court proceedings was on October 10, SLMI sued The Walt Disney Company (the current owner of Marvel) for multi-billion dollars over the rights to the Marvel characters, claiming that Stan Lee assigned the rights for his characters to Marvel, and that Disney never publicly recorded Marvel’s agreement with Lee with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Stan Lee has been ordered to provide documents and evidence pertaining to the dealings between Stan Lee Media, Marvel and Disney on the 19th of February. Hopefully to finally decide who actually owns the trademarked super heroes. This is going to be expensive for some one somewhere.
Does this mean that a Disney/Marvel Theme park is totally ruled out as getting too messy? Does Universal’s Islands of Adventure potentially have the same copyright issues connecting to this case?