Stan Lee Sues Former Company For $1bn In Damages

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Famed Marvel superhero creator Stan Lee is seeking more than $1bn (£740m) in damages from his former company POW! Entertainment, alleging that he was tricked into signing a document giving away rights to use his name and likeness.

The comic-book legend, who is 95, is suing POW!, its co-founder Gill Champion and CEO Shane Duffy, alleging they brokered a “sham deal” to sell POW! to a China-based company, Camsing. Duffy is also the vice president of Camsing Entertainment.

The lawsuit also claims Champion and Duffy “conspired ... to fraudulently steal Lee’s “identity, name, image and likeness as part of a nefarious scheme to benefit financially at [his] expense”.

© Getty The claim states that since 2015 Lee has been suffering from advanced macular degeneration, meaning he has been unable to read or drive on his own. The deal with Camsing went through when Lee’s wife of almost 70 years, Joan Lee, was dying, say his lawyers, and the comics writer was “in a state of total devastation”.

“Duffy and Champion were incentivised to get a deal between POW! and Camsing done because each of them would benefit financially,” claims the suit, and that the pair “never disclosed the actual terms of the deal to Lee before closing it”.

Stan Lee, pictured in California in 2015. © Getty Images Stan Lee, pictured in California in 2015. Lee, it is argued, would not have knowingly signed a document providing the exclusive right to use his identity. “Lee did not even grant an exclusive licence to his identity, image, name and likeness to the Walt Disney Company in a multibillion dollar deal, let alone give his name and likeness away for free to a company in China,” says the lawsuit, going on to allege that his signature on a document doing so was either forged, or that he was tricked into signing it, believing it to be another document.

The lawsuit, filed in California, also says that POW! took control of Lee’s personal social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you twitter. I finally learned how to post a video thanks to you guys.

— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 16, 2018

On 13 May, Lee’s Twitter account bore the message: “Today was the first day I ever did a tweet myself. Before today, my account was done by others. I still do not have control of my Facebook. Someone else is doing it, NOT me.” On Tuesday, he posted a video to fans thanking them for their support, and tweeted: “Help! Someone has hijacked my Facebook and Instagram. I want everyone to know whoever is writing them is a fraud and is impersonating me. How do I get them back? Can you guys help?”

The suit comes one month after Lee posted an emotional video online in response to allegations that he was the victim of elder abuse at the hands of his daughter, JC Lee. In April, the Hollywood Reporter published a notarised document dated 13 February 2018 and purportedly signed by Lee, that contained claims his daughter had been verbally abusive to him. In a video, Lee called the document’s contents “totally incorrect, inaccurate, misleading and insulting”, but his then-attorney Tom Lallas alleged he had gone through the document with Lee “word by word, line by line”.

In a statement to the Guardian, POW! Entertainment said: “We have seen the copy of Mr Lee’s complaint posted on Deadline Hollywood. The allegations are completely without merit. In particular, the notion that Mr Lee did not knowingly grant POW! exclusive rights to his creative works or his identity is so preposterous that we have to wonder whether Mr Lee is personally behind this lawsuit. There is no question Mr Lee – who, along with his daughter, was and remains a substantial POW! shareholder – clearly understood the terms of the agreements he signed. The evidence, which includes Mr Lee’s subsequent statements and conduct, is overwhelming and we look forward to presenting it in court.”

Related: Stan Lee: His life in pictures (GES)

  • Slide 1 of 24: American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee co-created Spider-Man. (Photo by )
  • Slide 2 of 24: Headshot of comic book author, Stan lee, wearing a dark suit and tie with a striped shirt, with a smiling facial expression, standing in front of many comic books of his creation, 1975. (Photo by ).
  • Slide 3 of 24
  • Slide 4 of 24: NEW YORK - JULY 10:  Publisher Stan Lee posing for a portrait on July 10, 1978 in New York, New York. (Photo by )
  • Slide 5 of 24: BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Stan Lee and wife Joan arrive at The Hollywood Awards Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel October 18, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by )
Mandatory Credit: Photo by  (3748082dd)
Fantastic Four
'This Morning' TV Programme, London, Britain - 13 May 2014
From the Beano, The Dandy and Bunty to Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman comics and comic characters are well known to adults and children of all ages. Although our ways of appreciating and enjoying comics has changed from leafing through a magazine fifty years ago to watching Spiderman save the world in 3D today the themes of comics still ring true all over the world. An exhibition at the British Library celebrating mainstream and underground comics has just started and comic curator John Dunning is here, along with comics enthusiast Paul Ross
  • Slide 7 of 24: Mandatory Credit: Photo by (1294619a)
Front of the rare Amazing Fantasy #15 comic, which featured Spiderman for the first time, that sold for $1.1m (£679,000)
First ever comic to feature Spiderman sells for $1.1m (£679,000), America - 09 Mar 2011
The first comic book to feature Spiderman has been sold for a staggering $1.1m (£679,000) to an anonymous buyer at an auction in America. The 1962 copy of the Amazing Fantasy #15 Marvel comic book shows the superhero swinging from a building while holding a man. At the time it was produced it cost just 12 cents. The rare comic, which was in near mint condition, was sold through Its sale comes a year after Superman's debut comic book from 1938 sold for $1.5m (£926,000).
  • Slide 8 of 24: Comic Collector Sells His Collection For £1.9 Million
  • Slide 9 of 24: Stan Lee, in dark sweater, publisher and editor of Marvel Comics, and his art director, John Romita, look at a drawing on March 5, 1975, which will appear in a comic books most of the company publishes about 85 different comic books, most of them monthly, most of them featuring superheroes, most written in college-level vocabulary.  However, there's one in language so simple that remedial readers are meant to improve and be encouraged to read further. (AP Photo)
  • Slide 10 of 24: American writer and Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee (left) gestures as he talks to actor Nicholas Hammond (who plays Peter Parker / Spider-Man) during the production of the television series 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' July 6, 1978. (Photo by )
  • Slide 11 of 24: Mandatory Credit: Photo by (171626b)
Stan Lee
STAN LEE - 1990
  • Slide 12 of 24: Stan Lee during Photo Session with Stan Lee at His New Company Stan Lee Media at Home Office of Stan Lee Media in Encino, California, United States. (Photo by )
  • Slide 13 of 24: BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 15:  Marvel Comics publisher/writer Stan Lee (L), author Paul Levitz (R) and a 1966-era
  • Slide 14 of 24: WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Pow Entertainment's Stan Lee And Gill Champion, President Pow Entertainment pose at the Gersh Agency launches Cynthia Stafford's Queen Nefertari Productions cocktail party at Sunset Tower Hotel, West Hollywood on December 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by )
  • Slide 15 of 24: Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee makes an appearance at Barnes & Noble at The Grove to sign copies of his autobiography, "Excelsior" (Photo by )
  • Slide 16 of 24: Comic book creator Stan Lee stands beside some of his drawings in the Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 21, 2006. ()
  • Slide 17 of 24: WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 17:  U.S. President George W. Bush congratulates Stan Lee, founder of POW! Entertainment before presenting him with the 2008 National Medals of Arts award during an event in the East Room at the White House November17, 2008 in Washington, DC. During the event president Bush presented recipients with awards for the National Medals of Arts and the National Humanities Medal.  (Photo by ) *** Local Caption *** Stan Lee;George W. Bush
  • Slide 18 of 24: PASADENA, CA - APRIL 19:  Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino, Stan Lee and Joan C. Lee attend the
  • Slide 19 of 24: HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 04:  Comic book legend Stan Lee attends a ceremony honoring him with the 2,428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 4, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by )
  • Slide 20 of 24: SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Comic book writer/actor/producer Stan Lee and actor Mark Hamill attend
  • Slide 21 of 24: CENTURY CITY, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Jaime Pressly and Stan Lee attend Stan Lee's 'Kids Universe' book label launch at Giggles 'N' Hugs on February 2, 2013 in Century City, California.  (Photo by )
  • Slide 22 of 24
  • Slide 23 of 24: HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 18: Comic Book Icon Stan Lee is inducted with a hand and footprint ceremony held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on July 18, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
  • Slide 24 of 24: HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 29:  Executive producer Stan Lee (L) and actor Chadwick Boseman at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
Full Screen 1/24 SLIDES © Axel Koester/Sygma via Getty Images

Writer, editor, publisher, producer, television host, actor and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee is the co-creator of some of the most famous comic book characters. We look back at the life of Stan “the man” Lee, a creative visionary who revolutionized the comic book industry.

2/24 SLIDES © JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City, New York, U.S., on Dec. 28, 1922, to Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents, Celia (née Solomon) and Jack Lieber. Lieber graduated high school early in 1939 and landed an assisting job for publisher Martin Goodman at Timely Comics when he was a little over 16 years of age.

(Pictured) A portrait of Lee from 1975.

3/24 SLIDES © Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

In 1941, writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby created the character Captain America for Timely whose first edition sold a million copies. Leiber made his comic-book debut in May 1941 under the pseudonym “Stan Lee” with a two-page text filler entitled “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” which appeared in Captain America Comics No. 3.

4/24 SLIDES © Santi Visalli/Getty Images

By the time Captain America Comics No. 5 was printed, Lee was writing proper comics. Late in 1941, Simon and his creative partner Kirby had a dispute with Goodman and left the company. The publisher, noting that the youthful Lee demonstrated a natural ability for the comic industry, decided to make the 19-year-old the comic’s interim editor. Soon, Lee became the comic-book division’s editor-in-chief and art director.

5/24 SLIDES © Mark Mainz/Getty Images

In 1942, Lee enlisted in the United States Army and served stateside in the Signal Corps, writing manuals, training films and slogans, and occasionally cartooning. When the war ended and he was discharged, he returned to Timely Comics. On Dec. 5, 1947, Lee married Joan Clayton Boocock (pictured) and the couple were together until Boocock’s death at the age of 95 on July 6, 2017.

6/24 SLIDES © S Meddle/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

In the late 1950s, DC Comics revived the superhero genre with characters such as Flash and the Justice League of America. Goodman charged Lee with the creation of a legion of new super-characters for Atlas Comics, the name by which Timely was now known. On being urged by his wife to push his boundaries, Lee teamed up with artist Kirby and co-created the Fantastic Four and published it under Marvel Comics on Nov. 1, 1961.

(Pictured) A recent issue of the Fantastic Four series. 

7/24 SLIDES © Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

It was the collaboration between Lee and Steve Ditko that brought Doctor Strange and Marvel’s most successful character, Spider-Man, into being. Spidey, as he became affectionately known, first appeared in the comic book “Amazing Fantasy #15” (pictured, 1962), before going solo in “The Amazing Spider-Man” in March 1963.

8/24 SLIDES © Barcroft Media/Barcoft Media via Getty Images

Throughout the 1960s, he scripted and art-directed most of Marvel’s series. He wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox,” which he signed off with the phrase, “Excelsior!” Kirby and Lee brought out the X-Men first issue (pictured) in September 1963.

9/24 SLIDES © AP Photo

Following Ditko’s exit in 1966, John Romita (R) collaborated with Lee on “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which quickly overtook Fantastic Four as the top-selling comics.

10/24 SLIDES © CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

In 1972, Lee stopped writing monthly comics with “The Amazing Spider-Man” #110 and “Fantastic Four” #125 being his final issues. He took on the role of publisher and became the face of Marvel Comics. In 1981, he moved to California, U.S., to develop Marvel's TV and movie properties further. Since then he has been an executive producer for, and has made cameo appearances in, numerous Marvel film adaptations.

(Pictured) Lee talking to actor Nicholas Hammond, who played the lead role in the TV series “The Amazing Spider-Man” on July 6, 1978.


In 1986, Lee briefly became the president of the entire Marvel Company, but soon relinquished the position and returned as the publisher instead, finding he missed the creative process. In 1994, Lee was inducted into the comic book industry’s The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.

12/24 SLIDES © Albert L. Ortega/WireImage/Getty Images

Lee began a new Internet-based superhero creation, production and marketing studio, Stan Lee Media, in 1998, in collaboration with Peter Paul. The company was mired in an illegal stock manipulation case, which led to Stan Lee Media filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Paul pleaded guilty to violations in connection with trading of his stock in Stan Lee Media, however Lee was never implicated in the scheme.

13/24 SLIDES © Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

During the 2000s, Lee did his first work for DC Comics, launching the Just Imagine... series, in which Lee re-imagined the DC superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash. He also collaborated on some Manga projects and, in 2011, even worked on a musical.

(Pictured) Lee and author Paul Levitz pose beside a 1966-era Batman at the launch party for Levitz's new book "75 Years of DC Comics" in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 15, 2010.

14/24 SLIDES © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In 2001, Lee teamed up with Gill Champion (pictured) and Arthur Lieberman to form POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment with the vision of developing film, TV and video game properties. 

15/24 SLIDES © Albert L. Ortega/WireImage/Getty Images

In 2002, Lee released his autobiography, titled “Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee.” The title refers to the sign-off on his monthly column “Stan’s Soapbox.”

16/24 SLIDES © Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

In 2006, to honor Lee’s 65 years with Marvel, the company published a series of comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with some of his co-creations such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom.

(Pictured) Lee at the Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2006.

17/24 SLIDES © Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In 2008, Lee was awarded the National Medal of Arts for what the White House described “his innovations that revolutionized American comic books.”

(Pictured) U.S. President George W. Bush congratulates Lee before presenting him with the National Medal of Arts award at the White House on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C., U.S.

18/24 SLIDES © Jesse Grant/WireImage/Getty Images

In 2010, the documentary "With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story" directed by Terry Dougas and Nikki Frakes was released. 

(Pictured) Lee with his daughter J.C. Lee (R) and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino at the premiere of the film in Pasadena, California, on April 19, 2012.

19/24 SLIDES © Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

In January 2011, at the age of 88, Lee was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By this point, over two million of Lee's comic books had been published in 25 languages across 75 countries.

20/24 SLIDES © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Lee announced his new YouTube channel, Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, which airs several programs created by Lee and other creators, including Mark Hamill (pictured), Peter David, Adrianne Curry and Bonnie Burton. In September of the same year, Lee underwent a surgery for pacemaker transplant, which forced him to cancel several planned appearances at conventions.

21/24 SLIDES © Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Early in 2013, Lee launched a multimedia children’s publishing company titled “Stan Lee’s Kids Universe.” In November of the year, he announced a collaboration with Stuart Moore on a book titled “Zodiac.” Apart from that, he co-created an Indian superhero, called ‘Chakra, the Invincible!”

(Pictured) Jaime Pressly and Lee at Stan Lee's 'Kids Universe' book label launch in Century City, California, on Feb. 2, 2013.

22/24 SLIDES © Eva Rinaldi via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

A TV animation movie titled “Stan Lee’s Mighty 7” released in February 2014. The plot revolves around Lee stumbling upon seven aliens, who crash-land in a desert, giving them shelter and making a superhero team out of them to fight forces of evil.

23/24 SLIDES © Brenton Edwards Photography/Newspix/Getty Images

In July 2017, the iconic creator was honored in a handprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.

24/24 SLIDES © Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Lee made his latest cameo role in the blockbuster "Black Panther" (2018), where he played a patron at a casino in Busan, South Korea. 

(Pictured) With Chadwick Boseman at the premiere of "Black Panther" in Los Angeles on Jan. 29, 2018.

24/24 SLIDES

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Stan Lee Sues Former Company For $1bn In Damages


Stan Lee Sues Former Company For $1bn In Damages