By Eriq Gardner
Suing for lots of money—let's say $750 million—gets a ton of press attention. Especially when the defendant happens to be a comic book legend like Stan Lee, the geek genius behind Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. But often lawsuits serve as nothing more than a formally-written press release. Lee and his former company are already waging war in California court, and have been for many years, fussing over ownership of many properties created by Lee.
So what's different about this latest lawsuit? The jurisdiction, for starters. The New York case also expands Marvel's role in the mess and seeks the huge financial redemption for lost profits, whereas the California litigation focuses on control of assets. And the New York lawsuit includes a new class of plaintiffs, those purporting to represent shareholders in Stan Lee Media.
According to one of our sources, the new plaintiffs in New York got frustrated waiting for action in the California litigation. They put the wheels in motion for their $750 million lawsuit before learning that the California District Court made an important order denying Lee's claims that he properly transferred assets belonging to Stan Lee Media Inc. Afterwards, Stan Lee Media put out a press release trumpeting the California decision and claiming that it would help them recover the money.
Stan Lee's side responded with its own press release doubting the legitimacy of these "plaintiffs."
"On January 27th a press release issued by persons falsely claiming to speak on behalf of Stan Lee Media Inc falsely presented the details of a California court truling...Despite assertions by certain 'plaintiffs' against Stan Lee in New York, San Lee, POW! Entertainment and QED Productions' interest in copyrights and trademarks owned by them may remain with POW!. QED, and Lee."
The press release continues, "The California ruling states that further proceedings will be necessary in this case."
By that, Lee means in California, where the real action is taking place. Unfortunately, a $750 million lawsuit may have overshadowed this fact.