New York federal judge Colleen McMahon has issued initial rulings in the lawsuit pitting Marvel against the heirs of Jack Kirby, the co-creator of such classic comics as IRON MAN, X-MEN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and SPIDER-MAN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Kirby heirs have been attempting to terminate the copyright grant on the characters. After 45 attempts, Marvel Ent. filed suit against the heirs in order to have a court rule that Kirby's work was "works-made-for-hire." The heirs then countersued stating the termination claims were valid.
Judge McMahon did not honor Marvel's request to throw out the countersuit, which Marvel called redundant. However, she did toss requests from the heirs for Marvel to provide accounting of the value of the characters, return Kirby's original artwork and claims of breach of contract and violations of the Lanham Act. Additionally, the judge ruled that Disney, the new parent company of Marvel, should be attached to the suit as a liable party.
The Kirby heirs are represented by Marc Toberoff, the same lawyer who won victories in copyright fights for the heirs of the SUPERMAN creators.
What is now mainly in dispute is what were the official terms Kirby worked under when he was employed at Marvel in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of his working agreements were loose contracts and oral agreements. Potentially the suit could be worth billions.