Ganfer & Shore, LLP, a New York City law firm, has defeated an attempt by Stan Lee Media, Inc. (“SLMI”) to pursue claims against three persons presently or formerly associated with famed comic-book writer and editor Stan Lee, in an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A February 9, 2012 decision by Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied SLMI’s attempt to reclaim intellectual property rights in the popular-culture character “Conan the Barbarian.” (Stan Lee Media Inc v. Conan Sales Co LLC et al (11-cv-06861-SVW) United States District Court Central District of California)
According to the decision, SLMI purchased all of the issued and outstanding stock of the corporation that owned the intellectual property rights to “Conan the Barbarian” in 2000, for consideration in the form of SLMI securities with a guaranteed minimum price (Stan Lee Media Inc v. Conan Sales Co LLC et al (11-cv-06861-SVW) United States District Court Central District of California). A few months later, SLMI filed for bankruptcy, causing its securities to become valueless. As a result, the sellers of the Conan intellectual property sought to reclaim their asset through litigation in the United States Bankruptcy Court, which was resolved under a compromise order that the Bankruptcy Court entered in 2002.
In August 2011, more than nine years after the Bankruptcy Court entered its order, SLMI brought its suit in U.S. District Court, seeking, among other things, to set aside the compromise order and to assert claims for millions in damages as well as ownership of Conan. In his decision, Judge Wilson held that SLMI had not established grounds for overturning the Bankruptcy Court’s compromise order because, among other things, the Bankruptcy Court had jurisdiction over the controversy and SLMI’s allegations of “lack of due process” and “fraud on the court” had not been established. (Stan Lee Media Inc v. Conan Sales Co LLC et al (11-cv-06861-SVW) United States District Court Central District of California)
This action was the most recent in a series of attempts by SLMI and persons affiliated with it, including Peter F. Paul, a currently incarcerated felon, to relitigate issues arising from SLMI’s bankruptcy filing in 2001. Ganfer & Shore, LLP has previously won dismissal of prior litigations filed by SLMI against Stan Lee and others before Judge Paul A. Crotty and Judge Robert W. Sweet, both of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Both Judge Crotty and Judge Sweet have held that it was “time to call a halt” to SLMI’s multiple litigations. (Stan Lee Media Inc v. Conan Sales Co LLC et al (11-cv-06861-SVW) United States District Court Central District of California)