Joan Celia (JC) Lee – Stan Lee’s daughter and only heir – filed a suit against POW! Entertainment Inc. to recover her father’s intellectual property (IP). The complaint filed on September 26, 2019 accuses Lee’s former business associates of tanking his company, Stan Lee Entertainment, to win the rights to his intellectual property in the bankruptcy process. It even goes so far as to compare their actions to those of villains commonly found in Lee’s famous comic books.
After being fired by Marvel in 1998, Stan Lee formed his own company, Stan Lee Entertainment, and transferred his IP rights to the company. According to the complaint filed in the Central District of California, a partner and a personal lawyer allegedly used the dot.com crash of 2000 “to engineer the financial collapse of Lee’s company through a series of financing guaranteed to collapse the company’s stock so that the company could be placed into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.”
The partners formed their own company, POW! Entertainment Inc., and induced Lee to abandon his company and join them, believing he had retained his creator rights and rights to his name and likeness. POW also allegedly assigned licenses to use the Lee IP rights to innocent parties, even though the rights never transferred from Stan Lee Entertainment to POW. The complaint also accuses the defendants of “cybersquatting” domain names such as “therealstanlee.com” and “stanleepresents.com.”
Before passing away, Stan Lee brought suit against POW, alleging that the executives had taken advantage of his medical condition and induced him to sign documents under false pretenses. However, the lawsuit was dropped – only now to be revived by his daughter.
JC Lee is asking for a declaratory judgement for the rights to Stan Lee’s intellectual property, as well as his image and likeness, belong to the trust she controls.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for POW affirmed that “It is truly unfortunate that Stan Lee’s name has to be involved in these continued frivolous actions, which are truly nothing more than family drama.”