Chalk up another legal win for Marvel Enterprises. Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals ruled that Marvel no longer has to pay Tucson attorney Stephen Kimble—inventor of the Spider-Man web shooters—royalties after 2010. Appellate Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote in a letter to the lawyer that he would have had the chance to cash in on higher royalty payments had he known the patent would eventually expire.
Ninth Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan writes, “We cannot agree because the agreement plainly involved one royalty rate for both patent and Web Blaster rights, with no discount or other clear indication that the Web Blaster royalties were not subject to patent leverage.”
Kimble can file for an appeal to provide proof on the verbal commitment he made to Marvel in 1990. This wouldn’t be the first time; the inventor filed a lawsuit for unpaid royalties after Marvel licensed the rights to Hasbro in 2006.
Since inventing the product, he has earned more than $6 million in an agreement with Marvel that allowed him three percent of net product sales. That’s a lot more than creators can say for actually creating the characters. Kimble says he the idea came to him while reading Spider-Man comics to his son before bed. Talk about “Make mine Marvel.”
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas.