Walt Disney asks for a dismissal of Spider-Man lawsuit

In a case regarding two of the biggest and best-known names in entertainment, Stan Lee Media Inc. is asking for billions of dollars in compensation from the Walt Disney Co. for copyright infringement. Disney has asked the court to dismiss the claim, calling the lawsuit “frivolous.” Stan Lee Media, or SLMI, has filed six different business litigation suits in the past dealing with copyright infringement, but judges have been dismissive of the bankrupt company’s claims.

At issue is the use of images for Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four, especially in movies such as “The Avengers.” SLMI claims that Disney never recorded an agreement with the now-defunct Marvel Comics to use these images and is asking for billions in payment for the alleged copyright misuse. Disney maintains that SLMI terminated its rights to the images in a 1998 agreement.

The courts have previously ruled that the earlier SLMI lawsuits were barred by res judicata, the judicial principle that cases cannot be tried on the same material issues more than once. Disney also claims that SLMI is in violation of the statute of limitations in filing the claim, and that a federal court in Colorado, who made an earlier ruling in the case, has no jurisdiction.

Business litigation involving copyright infringement and other technical issues can become very complicated. A business attorney can assist companies in sorting out the various claims that may exist in any business litigation and in reaching an agreement that satisfies all the parties to a suit. A business lawyer can also assist companies in drawing up agreements that avoid expensive litigation later by protecting the company’s rights in a transaction.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Disney Demands Rejection of Billion-Dollar Lawsuit Targeting Marvel Characters,” Eriq Gardner, Dec. 3, 2012