Judge Alexander Williams III ruled in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday that the filings in Marvel's lawsuit against Sony over Spider-Man merchandising (see 'The Mother of All Contract Suits') will be made public. Sony had fought to keep documents secret, especially the licensing agreements and marketing documents, arguing that the release of such sensitive information would make it difficult to do licensing deals for Spider-Man II, which is already in production. Marvel had not opposed making the documents public, and released the news of the ruling in a press release late Monday. Marvel did, however, agree to refile its claims without the licensing agreement and marketing document included. The judge did not rule on Sony's request to refer the matter to a private judge rather than to a jury, as agreed in the licensing agreement. Marvel opposes the request, arguing that fraud by Sony invalidates the agreement, and wants a jury trial.
Marvel's lawsuit seeks $50 million in damages and an end to the licensing agreement with Sony after Spider-Man II. It accuses Sony of fraud, the misappropriation of Spider-Man to promote lesser Sony brands, wrongfully withholding licensing revenues from Marvel, and breach of contract.
A relatively minor side fight indicates how nasty this fight has become: Variety reported on Monday that Sony was seeking contempt charges against Marvel for the alleged release of information to the Drudge Report last Wednesday, a charge Marvel denies.
There's plenty to fight over--Spider-Man I has grossed over $800 million in worldwide box office revenues since its release a little less than a year ago.