Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Spider-Man creator sued for $750m

Stan Lee with creation Spider-Man
Stan Lee has been embroiled in a number of legal cases in recent years

Spider-Man creator Stan Lee is facing legal action from shareholders of a company over film and book profits they claim amount to $750m (528m).

Marvel, the force behind The Incredible Hulk and The X-Men, is also accused of violating copyright, which the company says was transferred to it in 1998.

Marvel has said the legal papers, which were filed in New York, are filled with "ridiculous claims".

In 2005, Lee won a case with Marvel over profits earned on his creations.

The company whose shareholders are taking legal action against Lee is Stan Lee Media Inc, which he founded in the 1990s, but went bankrupt in 2001.

Blockbusting movies

The organisation re-emerged in 2006, and a year later Lee, now 86, sued it on a number of grounds, including cybersquatting and copyright infringement.

The firm went on to take action against Marvel in a claim over ownership rights to a string of comic book superheroes, which it said Lee had signed away.

The company's laywer, Martin Garbus, said he suspects that Lee entered into an agreement that prevented them from gaining profits from films and merchandise.

"That money should have gone to the corporation," he said.

Lee's legal representative, Mark Williams, said: "We look forward to a positive resolution for Stan Lee and his family."

In recent years, Marvel characters have spawned a number of blockbusting movies, including The X-Men series.

Spider-Man's three cinematic outings, starring Tobey Maguire, made in excess of $1bn (702m).

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