The Intellectual Comics

The intellectual property wars that rage in comics industry sometimes are as interesting as the comics themselves, people who read comics often know little about the IPR background of their favourite hero’s.


The fight for Superman intellectual property rights between Warner Bros and co-creators Jerome Siegel family have been going on  for some time now. Recently, a California federal judge Otis D. Wright, II upheld a controversial 2001 agreement between the parties. The lawyer representing Siegel family Marc Toberoff argued that after the studio agreed to a deal in 2001, “DC anticipatorily breached by instead demanding unacceptable new and revised terms as a condition to its performance; accordingly, the Siegels revoked the agreement, and DC abandoned it.” Warner Bros had reportedly been reluctant to push ahead with its Justice League movie project while legal battles were ongoing, however the ruling now paves the way for Warner Bros to release this summer’s Man Of Steel without legal fuss.


Another fascinating intellectual property fight within the comics industry has been between Stan Lee and Walt Disney, or more precisely its subsidiary Marvel. Stan Lee is an interesting character, which Jonathan Ross covered in his BBC4 documentary.


Stan Lee’s former company, Stan Lee Media sued Walt Disney for copyright infringement, stating that the media conglomerate has never actually owned the rights to famed comic book characters that have generated more than $5.5 billion in the past three years. Because, Stan Lee Media complaint claims, that the famous comic creator transferred his copyrights for characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men and most members of super-team Avengers to Stan Lee Media a month before he purportedly sold them to Marvel.


While, Batman has intellectual property troubles of its own, but this time regarding his batmobile. The US District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew settled a dispute raised by Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle over whether the Batmobile, because it is a vehicle, is entitled to the same copyright protection afforded to its superhero occupant. The judge found that the custom carmaker was liable for making replicas of the Batmobile, ruling that Warner Bros has viable copyrights and trademarks protecting Batman’s iconic crime-fighting vehicle.


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