UPDATE: POW! Entertainment has provided ComicBook.com with the statement below.
“It is truly unfortunate that Stan Lee’s name has to be involved in these continued frivolous actions which are truly nothing more than family drama.
J.C. Lee and others have unsuccessfully brought these very same arguments to court in multiple cases over the past 20 years, unfortunately, even leveling these arguments against her father when he was still alive. In those prior cases, the court system ruled in POWs favor, confirming without question POW! is the legal and proper owner of these rights. We are more than confident that this case will be promptly disposed of by the courts.
What is truly saddening for those at POW!, many of whom have been Stan’s Closest confidants, friends, and business associates for so many years, is to see his estranged daughter using Stan’s name in such a brazen and transparent effort to gain media attention and extract some financial settlement. The reality is that Stan Lee himself left specific instructions, including legal declarations, specifying that JC Lee is not to have any control, say, claim, right, or interest in or to the intellectual property that Stan left behind. Stan’s own instructions dictate that JC Lee is not to have any involvement whatsoever in the commercial development of Stan’s intellectual property. POW! is now, and always has been, Stan Lee’s company and his legacy and will be forever, the way he wanted it to be.
All of the past legal actions are a matter of public record and plainly show that the present legal action is nothing more than a perverse publicity stunt.”
The story as it was initially published is below.
Nearly one year after Stan Lee's passing, his daughter JC has sued the company her father founded immediately following his departure from Marvel in the 1990s. According to a civil complaint filed Thursday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Lee has filed suit against POW! Entertainment for "looting" the intellectual property the late comic iconic helped to create.
The complaint places a specific emphasis on the elder Lee's business dealings with Gill Champion and Arthur Lieberman from 2001 to 2018, where it claims the pair convinced an increasingly ailing Lee to reassign rights for various IP "on no less than 6 occassions." "...they misled Stan into believing that he could and should reassign those rights to POW! Entertainment on no less than 6 occasions, each based on convicing Stan he had retained rights that he had in fact validly assigned to Stan Lee Entertainment," the complaint reads.
If this is all starting to sound familiar, it's because Stan himself had also filed suit against POW! in the months leading up to his death. In a quick, twist of events, Lee filed a lawsuit for a whopping $1 billion in damages before soon dropping it, saying he was "thrilled to put the lawsuit behind me, get back to business with my friends and colleagues at POW! and launch the next wave of amazing characters and stories."
It doesn't appear the new lawsuit is seeking any monetary damages per se, rather simple acknowledgement that any intellectual property created by Stan Lee is owned by his trust — for which JC serves as executor — and not POW! Entertainment. Further more, the lawsuit also states POW! should have no further access to use the late creator's "identity, image, name or likeness" in essentially all facets of marketing including "social media, copyrights, trademarks and the like."
"When Stan Lee died in November 2018, his daughter, as his only heir and Trustee of his Estate, gathered a forensic team of lawyers and accountants to investigate the facts surrounding the actions of Stan Lee's supposed partners with whom Lee had stopped communicating during the last year of his life," the complaint reads. "In so doing, it was learned the extent to which the rights to Stan Lee's intellectual property had been looted, muddied and entangled by POW! and a range of bad actors enabled by POW!."0comments
As of now, POW! has yet to offer a response to the lawsuit. JC Lee — and the Lee Family Survivor's Trust — is being represented in this matter by Beverly Hills-based attorney Jonathan D. Freund. The full lawsuit (via THR) can be read here.
Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
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