The estate of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby filed with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the US District Court’s decision to throw out several copyright claims against Marvel Comics. In what is one of the hottest lawsuit in comics going today, the Jack Kirby Estate’s suit has more or less claimed that Jack Kirby was instrumental in creating characters commonly attributed to Stan Lee. These include Spider-Man, X-Men, and more of the hottest Marvel characters. A central question is whether Kirby created the characters for himself and then granted copyright *licenses* to Marvel or whether the characters were created as *works for hire* by Kirby for Marvel. If they were licenses, Kirby’s estate could terminate the licenses and all of those big properties would revert to the estate. If they were works for hire, then Marvel owns them clear. After sending termination notices to Marvel, Sony, and other holders of the characters, Kirby’s estate filed in New York federal court to enforce their copyrights. Eventually, each side filed a motion for summary judgment, stating their respective side. When the District Court agreed with Marvel, Kirby’s estate filed to appeal.
Nerds in Court intend to continue to cover this story in more detail, but wanted to bring the news now.