Despite the fact Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009 – and has earned profits off Stan Lee’s characters since – there is one company that claims Disney has breached copyright law.
Stan Lee Media Inc. (SLMI), formerly affiliated with Lee, filed a complaint stating the copyright to Marvel’s characters belongs to them, not the Walt Disney Company. In the complaint, SLMI states that Stan Lee signed over the copyright for Marvel properties and characters to SLMI in 1998 – before signing them over to Disney one month later.
The complaint states:
Oddly, in November, 1998, Stan Lee signed a written agreement with Marvel Enterprises, Inc. in which he purportedly assigned to Marvel the rights to the Characters. However, Lee no longer owned those rights since they had been assigned to SLEI previously. Accordingly, the Marvel agreement actually assigned nothing.