Disney has a little more money today to help add to the budget of the next Marvel movie. Disney has settled part of a $462,000 attorneys’ fees award with Stan Lee Media who filed numerous unsuccessful lawsuits trying to gain rights to Marvel’s characters.
When your lawyers walks away from the case that is never a good sign and that is what happened to Stan Lee Media. We have been telling you about these never-ending lawsuits for a few years now. At least six times courts have ruled that the bankrupt, Stan Lee Media (“SLM”) does not own rights to Spider-Man and other Marvel characters, Disney does. To sum up the dispute, SLM (no longer owned by or affiliated with Stan Lee but still bearing his name) claims that in 1998, Marvel, transferred rights to Spider-Man and other Marvel characters before such rights were transferred to Disney. SLM never asserted rights to the characters until it started filing lawsuits in 2007 and never even announced it had rights to the characters while Marvel continued to distribute comic books and license out the characters for movies. Court after court has tossed SLM’s claims out with last week’s comics but the lawsuits kept coming.
After defeating these cases, Disney was awarded judgments of over $462,000 covering its costs and fees against SLM. One problem, its hard to collect money from a bankrupt company, but the people funding the litigations are not bankrupt. During a deposition, the registered agent for SLM refused to produce any documents related to funding of the litigation by a third-party but did acknowledge that the case is being funding by another company TAP-SLMI, LLC; TAP has not other functions other than to fund these litigations.
Disney went hard after TAP to try to collect the money and there were some salacious accusations including mysterious witnesses failing to appear for depositions and the hiding of assets. Well the hunt for some money appears to have come to a close because the parties have reached an agreement to settle part of the claim. In a status report filed with the court of Friday, Disney and TAP reported that they have agreed to a settlement of a portion of the $462,000 attorney bill. The payment will be in one lump sum at a reduced rate but the exact amount of the settlement was kept confidential. The settlement is only with the elusive Mr. Wolk, TAP and another individual and the request for the recovery of fees remains pending against TAP’s other investors. During the last few months, TAP’s attorneys left the case and it isn’t clear if the defendants are being represented by counsel.
So Disney is a little richer today and we shall see if they still try to hunt down the remaining investors of TAP to find a little more money to pay off that attorneys’ fees bill.