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Disney in Big Superhero Copyright Battle

Suit brings Disney's ownership of Marvel characters into question


Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) has made a great deal of money from superheroes over the last few years. With the success of numerous Marvel movies — including this year’s billion-dollar The Avengers — Disney has seen its bottom line enhanced by its 2009 acquisition.

Now ownership of Marvel’s characters is in dispute. Stan Lee Media — a defunct Internet company named after the creator of many of the popular characters — is suing Disney for billions in lost profits, reports The Los Angeles Times.

In the suit, Stan Lee Media makes the claim that it owns the copyright on the Marvel heroes created by Lee. Documents filed with the suit state that Lee signed a contract in 1998 assigning the rights to all characters he created to Stan Lee Media. Two weeks later, Lee signed a similar contract with Marvel Entertainment.

Stan Lee Media — where Stan Lee no longer is an officer — is claiming that its rights take priority because its contract was signed first.

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