At least one skirmish has come to a close in the ongoing legal saga that seems to surround Stan Lee on multiple fronts. Lee has reportedly dropped a $1 billion lawsuit accusing POW! Entertainment of tricking him into exclusively signing away his name and likeness.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the Marvel legend dropped the suit he filed in May against POW!, alleging that POW! CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion conspired in a “nefarious scheme” to take advantage of Lee’s macular degeneration — as well as his struggle to cope with the death of his wife — to trick him into signing off on an agreement that would exclusively hand over the rights to his name and likeness.
The suit claimed that POW! did not fully disclose to Lee the terms of its acquisition in 2017 by Camsing International of Hong Kong, and that, under the new arrangement, the company had deceptively elicited from Lee an agreement to hand over his highly marketable brand identity. Lee also alleged that POW! had taken over his social media accounts, and even posted a series of tweets appealing to his fans for help in reclaiming his Facebook and Instagram accounts around the time the suit was filed in mid-May.
With the suit dropped, Lee reportedly said in a statement quoted by THR that he is “thrilled” to put the conflict behind him, and acknowledged that the matter ”has been confusing to everyone, including myself and the fans, but I am now happy to be surrounded by those who want the best for me.” The statement also indicates Lee and POW! will continue to work together amicably.
Duffy also reportedly added, in the same statement, that POW! is looking forward “to working with Stan again to develop and produce the great projects that were put on hold when the lawsuit was filed. We recently got together with Stan to discuss our path forward and we and Camsing are pleased with his overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction.” Bleeding Cool has reported that the lawsuit was filed on Lee's behalf by the Encino, California-based firm of Alpert, Barr & Grant.
With one less legal matter swirling, Lee’s affairs still continue to be dogged with other conflicts. In a case that aims to settle the ongoing matter of who legally can speak for Lee and who can’t, a judge ruled last week that former Lee manager Tom Lallas has no authority to represent Lee (who fired Lallas in February), and dismissed a restraining order Lallas had filed against former Lee business advisor Keya Morgan.
An April lawsuit also is pending against a former Lee publicist, Jerry Olivarez, accusing Olivarez of taking Lee’s blood without permission and selling comic books purporting to have been stamped with Lee’s “solvent DNA ink.”
Amid the all the labyrinthine accusations of brand exploitation, identity theft, and other alleged infringements generally associated with elder abuse, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said recently that it’s not simple, from a legal point of view, for the studio to rapidly step in to help represent Lee.
“It’s very complicated, and of course we’re always seeing what we can do about it,” Feige told the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s sad.”