A lawsuit against Stan Lee and Marvel Ent. from defunct Stan Lee Media shareholders Jose Abadin and Christopher Belland has been thrown out by a federal judge, reports VARIETY. The shareholders claimed that Lee had wrongfully transferred creation rights to Marvel in 1998. They were seeking ownership of characters such as Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, as well as $750 million in profits from movies based on those characters.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty dropped the suit partly because Abadin and Belland didn’t obtain their shares in Stan Lee Media until 1999. Additionally, any securities claims were previously settled. When the suit was originally filed in January 2009, then-attorney Martin Garbus claimed the suit was a chance for all Stan Lee Media investors to gain back their money. The biggest blow was is ruling that Lee’s lifetime agreement with Stan Lee Media was in conflict with California labor laws, which limit deals to seven years.
But Marvel isn’t out of the wood with the rights to these characters. Last month, the children of Jack Kirby filed suit against Marvel to regain control of the characters he co-created with Lee.
Stan Lee Media went bankrupt in 2001, with execs later arrested for stock manipulation. Lee has always stayed firm that his original creations with Marvel were never part of the formation of Stan Lee Media.