A federal judge has dismissed a $1 billion lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment that claimed copyright infringement, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract when Stan Lee left the company that bares his name, Stan Lee Media Inc., for Marvel about a decade ago.
The lawsuit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and the judge slammed the plaintiffs for trying to circumvent prior legal rulings. In 1998, after Marvel used bankruptcy proceedings to void its $1 million-per-year lifetime contract with Lee, the legendary comic book creator formed SLMI as a Web-based production and marketing company to control his intellectual property.
Three years later, SLMI was in its own bankruptcy, and Lee sued Marvel for reneging on his employment contract. A settlement was reached, with Marvel regaining control over Lee's properties. Some of the executives and shareholders of SLMI weren't happy with that development, however, and alleged that Lee's comics creations, such as X-Men, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four, were stolen from them.
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