During yesterday's conference call concerning Marvel's Q4 2004 performance, Marvel Enterprises vice chair Peter Cuneo indicated that a settlement in the legal battle with Stan Lee, the company's chairman emeritus, might be close.  According to Cuneo, a recent ruling on the case (see 'Stan Lee Gets Spidey Cents'), in which the judge decided that Lee was entitled to 10% of Marvel's movie and TV profits since 1998, but left it up to a jury to decide if the Spider-Man co-creator should share in profits from joint licensing agreements, has clarified the issues and actually helped in negotiations between the two sides. 


According to Variety 'Lee is likely owed northwards of $20 million' just on the movie and TV rights, while his share of joint merchandising revenues (if a jury were to decide in his favor) could be worth 'millions more.'  Marvel's big hammer in this case is its ability to draw it out through the lengthy and costly appeals process, but the expense meter is running for Marvel too and during the conference call Cuneo clearly sounded like he wanted to reach a settlement and move forward.