A U.S. District Court judge put an end to a long-running lawsuit filed by shareholders in the long-defunct Stan Lee Media Inc. over the company’s breakup that included a claim to the characters Lee created for Marvel Comics.
The case, which alleged Lee improperly transferred his share in such characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Thor to Marvel, was dismissed on grounds the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue, expiration of statute of limitations and other causes.
Stan Lee Media was an internet-based entertainment company founded in 1998 after the end of Lee’s long-time exclusive contract with Marvel. Despite a flashy launch, the company ran out of capital in the dot-com bust and entered bankruptcy protection in 2001.
A group of new investors brought the company out of bankruptcy in 2006 and filed several lawsuits against Lee, claiming his contract gave the company a 50 percent share in the characters Lee co-created for Marvel.
The judge ruled that several terms of the contract, such as lifetime term, were illegal; that the plaintiffs, who bought their shares in 1999, lacked standing; and that securities claims against Lee in the case had already been settled.