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Stan Lee Media, Inc. filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit in Colorado against the Walt Disney Company, claiming that it actually owns the rights to Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man and members of the Avengers.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, accuses Disney of copyright violation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. SLMI, which was founded in the late 1990s, claims that Stan Lee, who co-created many of the Marvel superheroes, never properly gave the company the rights to his characters. It also claims that when Disney bought Marvel, the company never registered the characters at the US copyright office.
SLMI included legal documents from Oct. 15, 1998 that allegedly show that Lee gave his company, of which he is no longer an executive at, rights to the characters, reports The Los Angeles Times. Two weeks later, he did the same with Marvel.
The company insists that it is entitled to billions of the profits that Disney and Marvel have made since 2009, when Disney bought the company, from the several successful films. SLMI also wants profits from the X-Men and Spider-Man films, which are currently produced by Fox and Sony, respectively.
SLMI has sued Marvel and Lee himself in the past. A 2009 lawsuit was dismissed by a judge. In the new suit, the company admits its “somewhat tortured” litigation history, but claims that the past shouldn’t “limit in any sense” the new suit.
In a statement to the LA Times, a Disney spokeswoman responded, “This lawsuit is without merit, it arises out of the same core facts and legal claims that have been rejected by three federal district court judges.”