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By Tamlin Bason
Sept. 5 — Stan Lee Media Inc., a company that has repeatedly failed in its efforts to enforce its alleged copyright interests in famous comic book characters against media companies, has appealed to the Tenth Circuit a ruling ordering it to pay the Walt Disney Co. nearly $240,000 in attorneys' fees.
In 2013, the District of Colorado dismissed a copyright infringement suit alleging that recent films based on Marvel superheroes infringed copyrights in characters that were created by Stan Lee.
Although comic book creator Stan Lee had assigned his rights to the entity in 1999, he later sent a letter to Stan Lee Media terminating that assignment and reassigning the rights to Marvel Entertainment, which in 2009 was acquired by Disney.
The district court noted that prior litigation had already established that Stan Lee Media lacked the rights in question and so it dismissed the suit on collateral estoppel grounds.
In July, the district court found the lawsuit objectively unreasonable and awarded Disney $240,000 in attorneys' fees under Section 505 of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 505.
Stan Lee Media is represented by Robert Steven Chapman of Eisner, Kahan, Gorry, Chapman, Ross & Jaffe, Beverly Hills, Calif. Disney is represented by Holly C. Ludwig of Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP, Denver.
The Ninth Circuit may get another opportunity to rule on a trademark dispute over the rights to the “Neurovision” mark following a Sept. 4 appeal of a permanent injunction (Neurovision Med. Prods. Inc. v. Nuvasive, Inc.,No. 14-56449, 9th Cir., appeal filed Sept. 4, 2014).
In 2012, the Ninth Circuit issued a nonprecedential opinion vacating a jury's $60 million dollar infringement award and the district court's permanent injunction barring Nuvasive Inc. from using the Neurovision mark. The jury's determination that Nuvasive committed fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office when it obtained a registration for the Neurovision mark followed erroneous jury instructions, the appeals court held.
A second trial in April ended in a similar verdict, although Neurovision Medical Products Inc.'s award was cut to $30 million. The district court granted Neurovision's motion for a permanent injunction on Aug. 5 and entered that injunction, which also ordered that Nuvasive's Neurovision registration be cancelled, on Sept. 2
William S. Boggs of DLA Piper LLP, San Diego, will represent Nuvasive on appeal. Keith J. Wesley of Browne George Ross LLP, Los Angeles, represented Neurovision at the district court.
Text of order awarding attorneys' fees in Stan Lee Media is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Stan_Lee_Media_Inc_v_The_Walt_Disney_Company_Docket_No_112cv02663/1.
Text of order granting permanent injunction in Neurovision available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Neurovision_Medical_Products_Inc_v_Nuvasive_Inc_et_al_Docket_No_2/4.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tamlin Bason in Washington at email@example.com
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