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If the long, long battle over the rights to Superman were a DC “event” comic, we would be into the colon-bedecked spin-offs by now. On Friday, legal hotshot Marc Toberoff — who, in addition to representing the heirs of Jerry Siegel also represents the heirs of Joe Shuster AND the heirs of Jack Kirby in all their various legal maneuverings — filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him in May by DC Comics. Variety has a lengthy story which might be behind a paywall.

As you’ll recall, in May DC/WB’s newly hired hotshot of their own, Daniel Petrocelli, filed a suit alleging that Toberoff had interfered with the Siegel and Shuster heirs by turning them against DC for his own personal gain. According o the suit, Toberoff had a 47.5% stake in the rights which the Siegels are aiming to recapture.

Toberoff’s attorney, Richard Kendall, filed motions on Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeking to dismiss the suit. Among other things, he cited protections from California’s “anti-SLAPP” laws, designed to curb lawsuits filed with the intention of intimidating the opposition by delay and legal expense. (SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation”).

So if this were a comic book, it might be called Legal Night: The Battle Against S.L.A.P.P.

Author Ted Johnson digs up many more intriguing details in the filings, including DC’s claim that in 2002, Toberoff had dissuaded the Siegels from settling the case.

Perhaps most intriguing about DC Comics’ suit against Toberoff was the inclusion of an unsigned document, called the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline,” that spelled out a series of tactics on the part of Toberoff through which he purportedly claimed as “much ownership of the Superman copyright personally as he can.”
The DC suit says that the document was written by an attorney previously employed at Toberoff’s firm. It was delivered to Warner Bros. in 2006 along with a pile of other files that Toberoff says were privileged attorney client documents stolen from his firm. 

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  1. Maybe this is a stupid question, but wouldn’t the 47.5% that Toberoff might get most likely be his legal fees?

    Whatever money the Seigel and Shuster heirs have or are currently recieving from Superman, it can’t be cheap to keep this epic, decades long legal battle going.

    And since the combined percentage that the heirs are getting is larger than Toberoffs end, together they would still have majority control and far more control than they do now, no?

  2. I may have missed some information, but why is this legal dispute even going forward? Were the Superman rights not sold to DC/WB? Didn’t the previous owners receive $ from this? If so, a deal is a deal. Though luck. this is another cheap attempt to enrich ones self in our good old capitalist model. MOst fans are just annoyed by it and this adds more fuel to the fire.

  3. >>>MOst fans are just annoyed by it and this adds more fuel to the fire.

    Most “fans” are moral cowards who would sell grandma’s mortgage to buy their Wednesday fix.

  4. “I may have missed some information, but why is this legal dispute even going forward? Were the Superman rights not sold to DC/WB?”

    The Superman rights that were sold were for the number of years that copyright law allowed at the time of the sales. Laws changed and it was determined that extensions to copyrights, in certain cases, can be re-claimed by the original creators or their estates. The estates of Siegel and Shuster are exercising their rights to re-claim some copyrights as allowed under the law. DC is disputing those rights. In general the courts, after examining all the evidence lawyers for both sides have presented and the relevant case law, have sided against DC.

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