Back in 1998, comic book legend Stan Lee formed a startup company entitled Stan Lee Media, to manage a growing list of new characters that were being created. Shortly thereafter, Stan Lee himself cut ties with the company, before it went bankrupt in 2000. While that would normally be the end for a company like this, the defunct Stan Lee Media went ahead and sued Disney several times, starting in 2007, claiming they owned the rights to superhero characters created by Stan Lee, such as Spider-Man. Disney won every time, but now, according to Pirated Thoughts, the studio is now suing SLM, over nearly a half million dollars in unpaid legal fees.
Stan Lee Media never claimed that they owned the rights to several characters until the bankrupt company started filing lawsuits against Disney in 2007, at least six of them. The lawsuits claimed that Stan Lee transferred the rights to beloved characters like Spider-Man, The Avengers, Hulk, X-Men and Thor, over to the company, but each time a lawsuit was filed by SLM, it was thrown out of court, and Disney was awarded $462,000, to cover its court costs and legal fees in defending these lawsuits. Since Stan Lee Media went bankrupt, Disney then went after the company funding these lawsuits to cover the legal fees they’re owed.
The lawsuits were funded by a company known as TAP-SLMI, LLC, which apparently has no other function other than to fund these lawsuits. Disney went after this company, which was opposed by Stan Lee Media, but the court ruled that the company funding litigation can be held responsible for paying the court costs and legal fees. The judge ordered TAP-SLMI to produce documents in court, but TAP claimed its principle, a person known only as Mr. Wolk, was sick and unable to produce the documents or appear in court, but here’s where it gets really interesting.
Disney claims that, according to their records, the bank accounts provided for TAP had over $240,000 as of November 2014, but now they contain just $2,000. Records show that some of the money went to pay SLM’s attorney fees, but most of it went straight to the mysterious Mr. Wolk. Disney tried to subpoena Mr. Wolk’s personal bank records, but this individual again claimed to be sick, and the documents have still never been produced.
Disney said they would update the court about the status of these documents in March. The case has come up again because of Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter F. Paul‘s connections to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is now one of the front-runners in the Presidential race. Paul was a major backer of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and he once even tried to get her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to sit on SLM’s board of directors. It still remains unclear whether or not this case will be resolved anytime soon, but stay tuned for more updates.