Stan Lee has scored a first round victory in his lawsuit against Marvel Enterprises. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled Wednesday that Lee is entitled to 10% of the profits Marvel has received since November, 1998 from studios for the right to produce movies and TV shows, and from movie-based toys that it sells itself.
The court ruling was less favorable to Lee on a couple of other counts. First, the court ruled that a jury would have to decide if Lee was entitled to a percentage of Marvel's profits from its joint venture with Sony for Spider-Man movie licensing. And second, the court ruled that Lee was not entitled to a share of moneys received by Marvel from third parties for movie-related licensing.
The lawsuit was filed over two years ago (see 'Stan Lee Pulls the Trigger') based on a dispute over Lee's 90s contract with Marvel (see 'Is Stan Lee Thinking about It?'), which also pays him over $1 million a year for being a spokesperson for the company.
Marvel was prepared for the ruling. It was released Wednesday a.m., and before 9 a.m. CT, Marvel had issued a statement from General Counsel John Turitzin indicating its reaction to the ruling. Turitzin said, 'We intend to appeal those matters on which we did not prevail and to continue to contest vigorously the claims on which the court did not rule.'
Turitzin also said that Marvel did not expect the ruling to have an impact on its financial guidance for 2004, 2005, or its future prospects. Traders were apparently not totally convinced; Marvel shares lost $.82 Wednesday, or over 4% of their value.
Marvel has a street fighter's personality when it comes to litigation; with only two years under its belt on this one, there's probably still a long way to go.