I’ve been doing this daily comics news thing for 11 years, more or less, and if there is one thing which has remained consistent throughout those 11 years of comics industry tumult, it’s Stan Lee Media suing someone or something. I honestly don’t remember all the things they’ve sued, but it includes Stan Lee, Marvel (many times) Conan Properties, and Disney (many times). The suits usually claim that Stan Lee Media owns Spider-Man, or the Avengers or Conan or whatever someone is making a movie of, and the suits always involve insanely tortured legal claims over unrelated documents. The courts always rule against SLMi, as it’s called, but that doesn’t stop them. They keep coming back.
What makes this all the more weird is that Stan Lee Media doesn’t really exist any more. Oh, once it did, as a company that employed more than 100 people, many of them talented, such as artist Dave Johnson and editor Jim Salicrup. The original Stan Lee Media started out in the “interactive” 90s and set out to developed “interactive” properties based on Stan Lee ideas or mumbles or whatever. But it was too soon for all that and in 2000, SLM went bankrupt, with investor Peter Paul went on an international rampage of law breaking. The bankruptcy ended in 2006 and some kind of unholy shell company was raised from the ashes, which then set about suing to get its zombies mitts on the rights to anything it had touched while it was alive.
Of late, Disney has been a frequent target of SLMi lawsuits, with SLMi claiming they own various Marvel movie character because Stan Lee owned the company when it was alive. These suits are always dismissed but that doesn’t stop Zombie Stan Lee Media. But, it seems, Disney is ready to stop this zombie once and for all, as they have grown weary of its endless shambling legal maneuvers, as chronicled by THR’s ERiq Gardner. The latest battlefield is an obscure musical which uses songs from Disney-owned musicals that somehow SLMI claims to have licensed.
It sounds crazy and it is. Disney has vowed “The time has come for this Court to end once and for all SLMI’s vexatious and repeatedly rejected claims of ownership over the Marvel Characters.”
I’m not always a fan of Disney’s heavy-handed legal battles , but this time, I’m rooting for them ALL THE WAY! The SLMi legal wrangles are just annoying and tedious and I get a headache every time I try to untangle them.
Its subsidiary Marvel and licensees “have continuously and notoriously used the Marvel Characters for more than fifty years,” says Disney, adding that SLMI knew about this and could have objected when it made a deal with Stan Lee in 1998. Instead, SLMI sat on its claimed rights, continues a motion, and if there’s any confusion about what Marvel actually owns, Disney says that was put to bed in an appellate court’s ruling last year concerning Stan Lee colleague Jack Kirby.
Two, Disney says that SLMI is an “administratively dissolved corporation that lacks the capacity to license.” Essentially, Disney says SLMI has ceased to function but for litigating since 2002. And Disney adds that under Colorado law, a dissolved corporation can’t carry on its business except to “wind up and liquidate its business and affairs.”