Before he died late last year, the late comic creator Stan Lee filed a $1 billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment. The man known worldwide a creator of a multitude of Avengers characters claimed that executives with the company took advantage of his declining health. He said they induced him to sign away rights to his name and likeness. In some cases, he alleged, his signature was forged on documents.
Just two months after he filed it — and four months before his death at age 95 — Lee dropped the lawsuit. In a statement released at the time, he said, “I am 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!”
Now his daughter J.C. is reviving and expanding the legal battle. The Lee Family Survivor’s Trust, for which she is the trustee, is suing POW! in federal court. The suit claims that the company has “looted” Lee’s intellectual property (IP) since 2001.
The suit also claims that some of his business partners over the years “misled” him regarding his IP rights. It says that after his death, a team of accountants and attorneys “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!
In a statement, the company responded, “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….We are more than confident that this case will be promptly disposed of by the courts.”
Intellectual property law can be extremely complex. It’s essential to have experienced legal guidance when you’re dealing with the rights to any of your IP, including your own name and likeness.