Warner Bros. Wins Final Fight for Superman

On November 21, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that Warner Brothers is the sole owner of Superman’s copyright.  The ruling should be the final legal battle in the lengthy ownership dispute with the estates of Superman’s co-creators.  The court described the case as “another chapter in the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman – a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.” Superman made his debut in 1938 as a character in Action Comics #1.  The…
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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … barber? Barbershop Sued by DC Comics over Superman Marks

DC Comics has filed a trademark infringement suit against a Florida barbershop owner in federal court.  The suit accuses the owners of “Supermen Fades to Fros LLC” of using signs, promotion materials and logos which bear DC Comics’ trademarked “Superman” materials. DC Comics requested that the shop owner cease the use of the marks on multiple occasions without result.  DC’s complaint notes that “DC has never at any time authorized defendants to utilize the infringing promotions in conjunction with any barbershop business and/or the sale…
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Ghost Rider Creator Consigned to Copyright Hell with Appellate Decision

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest (for the Southern District of New York) by refusing to revive copyright claims brought by comic book writer and “Ghost Rider” creator Gary Friedrich.  The ruling confirmed that Friedrich had both (a) signed over whatever rights he had in the character in a 1978 agreement with Marvel, and (b) alternatively, had waited too long to sue over those rights and could therefore not dispute…
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Disney Suit Seeks to End the Party for Seller of Unlicensed Character Costumes

Recently, Walt Disney Co., Sanrio, Co., Ltd. and DC Comics filed suit in federal district court against Party Animals LLC (a business offering costumes and party entertainment) alleging that Party Animals infringed on various trademarks and copyrights owned by the Plaintiffs by renting character costumes produced without permission in violation of the Plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights.   Some of the alleged infringing costumes named by the suit include Winnie the Pooh, Batman, Superman, and Hello Kitty. Party Animals’s website plainly states that it has no licenses…
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Stan “The Man” Lee Victorious Once Again

On July 9, 2012, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson for the Central District of California dismissed a suit brought against Stan Lee and his production companies, which sought various ownership rights and profits stemming from the use of iconic characters such as Spiderman and the X-Men.  Marvel Entertainment, Inc. currently owns the rights. Counsel for Lee claims that the suit was barred under the legal doctrine of res judicata – similar claims had been filed and dismissed in New York federal court back in April…
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