Let’s write out all the zeroes Stan Lee Media are hoping to take off Disney. It’s $5,500,000,000. Hmm. Tasty.
The grounds of the case are pretty straight forward (unless you start to get too legal). Stan Lee Media claim ownership over all the characters that Stan Lee ever invented. This means they want cash from the success of the Iron Man movies and Spider-Man. They also want cash from The X-Men series as well as pretty much most of the Avengers too.
Things get a little more complex when you consider that Stan Lee has nothing to do with them.
In the 90s Stan Lee sold his rights to Stan Lee Media Inc. They didn’t do well in the internet bubble and filed for bankruptcy.
Lawyers will now argue whether Stan Lee got the rights back then or whether there was something unusual about the case that allowed Stan Lee Media Inc to keep them.
Disney, who own Marvel, have a powerful team of lawyers and will argue that Stan Lee certainly got his rights back. Stan Lee, of course, signed the rights of his characters over to Marvel before Disney bought them.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, not just because of the huge figure claimed but in the growing “creator-owned” movement that is developing in the industry.