Stan Lee Media Inc. has suffered another defeat in its attempt to restore its rights to the “Conan the Barbarian” character as a court recently dismissed its lawsuit against Conan Sales Co., Paradox Entertainment and Lee’s attorney, Arthur Lieberman, among others. The eponymous enterprise argued that when Conan Sales Co. bought back the rights to the character, numerous of its shareholders (1,800) failed to receive proper notice. The company also asserted that Lieberman made misrepresentations and failed to disclose conflicts; Stan Lee Media claimed that its interests in the proceedings were improperly represented and for these reasons sought the annulment of the transfer of rights to Conan Sales Co., later sold to Paradox Entertainment.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that notice to shareholders was not required during the bankruptcy process but even if it was, Stan Lee Media could not show standing or harm. Further, Wilson found the company had proper representation in the bankruptcy proceedings and had failed to establish any improper action by Lieberman. Since Stan Lee Media declared bankruptcy in 2001, the company has doggedly sought to reclaim intellectual property rights that the company’s board of directors assert were fraudulently taken during bankruptcy. Assets in dispute include the characters Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four. The Second Circuit in March is scheduled to hear the company’s arguments that it has standing to attempt to reclaim these characters, in a case that could amount to billions of dollars in intellectual property.