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Warner Bros. wins victory in Superman lawsuit
Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Thursday, October 18, 2012
A federal Californian judge has ruled that movie studio Warner Bros. has ownership in the one-half of Superman property rights created by Joe Shuster. The ruling comes as the studio is well into post-production on its next Superman film, Man of Steel, and as a different lawsuit brought on by the other Superman co-creator heirs (Jerry Siegel) winds its own way through the courts.
Judge Otis Wright looked at the claims filed by Jean Peavy, the surviving daughter of Shuster, and felt that her case was without merit. According to court documents released yesterday, Shuster agreed with Warner Bros. back in 1992 on a settlement that supposedly put to rest all claims of legal ownership of the Superman character. This was the basis of Warner Bros. defence, and ultimately Judge Wright felt that it supported the company's claims of ownership. Judge Wright also felt that the 1992 agreement could not be terminated.
This is a major turn in the case of the Superman ownership rights. Both Shuster and Siegels' surviving family members have taken Warner Bros. to court, and the cases are taking years to slowly proceed. Meanwhile, the studio and comic book publishing side of Warner Bros. continues to make money from the Superman property, as well as create new movies, TV shows, comic books and other related consumer items with its brand.
It's expected that Peavy will file an appeal which will undoubtedly take several more years to proceed in the legal system. Meanwhile, the Siegel family has received an approval from the courts to proceed with their legal motion against Warner Bros. for the other half of the Superman rights. How the Peavy ruling will affect the Siegel claim, or vice versa, remains to be seen.
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