Stan Lee vs. Stan Lee Media goes bicoastal

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Stan Lee vs. Stan Lee Media goes bicoastal

Fri Jan 30, 2009 @ 03:53PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Lee,stan 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.

So we weren't surprised to see so many news reports that shareholders of Stan Lee Media were suing Stan Lee for $750 million to recover their claimed share of profits from Lee's Marvel-related characters.

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.


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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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