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.

Read the entire ruling here.

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.”

(via StarNet)

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.


  1. So wait, this guy didn’t create web-shooters that Spider-man was based on. This guy read Spider-man in the 90s, felt he could make a real version, and came up with a licensing contract to design and sell them by agreement with Marvel.

    Then after being successful, becoming a millionaire, using Marvel’s idea – a core part of a major comic character – he sought to rewrite the rules.

    What a nothing story.

    If there was an inventer from the 50s who Stan patterened the idea after? Now that would be a story!

  2. Re Silly but True:
    What makes this guy any different than any other comic book creator working in comics today? They get royalties on work they did on characters created by someone else. Are you proposing royalties should only be paid to people for their own characters?

    BTW: 3% Net = 6Million???
    These things have sold 200 Million Net? (Which is probably close 400M Gross). At 20$ each, that’s 20Million units. Over 23 years, that ‘s 870k a year, or 72k a month. Which means they sell more of these than most Spider-Man comics.

  3. still pretty confused. Kimble invented a toy based on the spider-man web shooter and then liscened it to Marvel for 3% of net sales, yes? And the suit was over a verbal agreement that Kimble says he had with Marvel? So what does Kimble say was in the verbal agreement?

  4. According to the StarNet article, there are legal technicalities involving contracts for royalties based on patents, since patents expire. Marvel acted correctly in stopping the royalty payments once the patent expired; Kimble could regain the rights to payments if he can prove that Marvel verbally committed to continuing payments to him after the patent expired.


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