Stan Lee sued over superhero trademark

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Stan Lee sued over superhero trademark

Mon Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:54AM PST

071509_stanlee By Eriq Gardner

Stan Lee has had a remarkable run creating legendary comic book characters including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk and many others. He's also seen many of these characters subjected to litigation, from former shareholders of his prior company that unsuccessfully claimed intellectual property ownership, to the estate of his former partner Jack Kirby, who is attempting to terminate copyright grants.

No surprise that Lee's attempt to write himself into a comic book as the leader of a new team of superheroes isn't taking off without legal review.

At Comic-Con last month, Lee announced a new series entitled Stan Lee's "Super Seven," which according to reports, centered on the 87-year-old Lee struggling with writer's block and encountering a spaceship of aliens in the desert. Lee takes advantage of their powers and assigns them superhero identities and tasks to perform.

One problem.

Toy manufacturing giant Super 7 owns the trademark to its name and claims in a new lawsuit that it tried to warn Lee against going forward with his plan.

Last week, Super 7 filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in California against Lee, POW! Entertainment, A Squared Entertainment, and other entities, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition.

According to the lawsuit, Super 7 learned of the proposed new creation in February and sent a letter laying out its trademark rights. A lawyer for one of the defendants wrote back, allegedly stating that his clients "have decided to move in a different direction and are in the process of developing another mark for their products."

The same lawyer allegedly wrote another letter three months later informing Super 7 that his clients now planned to use "Stan Lee and the Super Seven" as a trademark in connection with comic books, television, online programming and other works.

Then at Comic-Con, Lee made the big announcement. Here's the press release.

Super 7 wants a court to issue an injunction and the company also demands a disgorgement of profits as well as compensatory damages. We'll see if one of Lee's aliens has been tasked with a trademark forcefield. 

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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 [email protected]

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