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Marc Toberoff, the lawyer suing Marvel on behalf of the estate of comic book legend Jack Kirby, is vowing to appeal a U.S. District Court ruling Wenesday tossing major copyright claims against the studio.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and intend to appeal this matter to the Second Circuit,” Toberoff tells us via email. ” Sometimes you have to lose in order to win.”
As we’ve reported, the Kirby estate is attempting to terminate early copyright grants of more than 45 lucrative characters, including such Marvel cash-cows as Thor and the Incrideble Hulk. The estate in September sent notices of termination to Marvel and its licensees Sony (Spider-Man), Fox (X-Men), Universal and others.
Marvel then hit back with a lawsuit in New York federal court that claims Kirby’s creations were “works for hire” and thus not subject to termination. The two sides then filed summary judgment motions, and in a ruling released on Wednesday, the court sides with Marvel.
“We are pleased that in this case, the judge has confirmed Marvel’s ownership rights,” Marvel owner Disney says in a statement.
Studios throughout Hollywood are likely breathing a sigh of relief, given how pervasive the Marvel properties are throughout the movie (and television) business. With the exception of Warner Bros., which owns Marvel rival DC Comics, every major studio is in business with Marvel in some way.
But Toberoff, well-known as a thorn in studios’ sides based on his copyright cases involving Superman and other properties, says the case is far from over.
“We knew when we took this on that it would not be easy given various arcane and contradictory ‘work for hire” decisions under the 1909 Copyright Act.”
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