Stan Lee has filed a major lawsuit against his former company over allegations that it stole his likeness for financial gain.
Lee, a legend in the entertainment industry who co-created many of the comics characters beloved around the world—including Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Incredible Hulk, among others—filed a $1 billion suit against the company he co-founded in 2001, POW! Entertainment, as well his co-founders Shane Duffy and Gill Champion, according to CNBC.
The lawsuit, which was obtained by CNBC, alleges that the defendants used Lee’s name and likeness to sell the company to China-based Camsing International last year. Lee said that his co-founders “forged or fraudulently obtained” his signature to allow his name and likeness to be used anytime. The 95-year-old Lee said in the lawsuit that he was made to believe he was signing another contract, but because of his poor eyesight, he signed the document handing over his naming rights.
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Lee formed POW! in 2001 as a holding company of sorts for his vast library of intellectual property for film, television, animation, and comics, among other content. Camsing International acquired POW! in 2017 for an undisclosed price and placed its U.S. vice president Shane Duffy as POW!’s CEO. Champion, who was cited as a defendant in the lawsuit, was made president.
In the lawsuit, Lee alleges that he had been asked by the defendants to sign non-exclusive rights to his name to facilitate the deal, but the agreement ultimately allowed for exclusive rights. The agreement also paved the way for POW! to use Lee’s social media accounts without his input, according to the lawsuit.
Lee is suing for $1 billion (or more) in damages. He also wants the exclusive rights agreement tossed out by the court.