Acting in her capacity as Trustee of her father Stan Lee's survivor's trust, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee has filed a lawsuit against POW! Entertainment over intellectual property created by her father.
"This is an action to vindicate the creator rights and brand of Stan Lee, the most influential and successful creator of superhero characters in history," states the complaint, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "It is an effort to fulfill the covenant Stan Lee made with his namesake company and to remedy the wrongs inflicted by trusted business associates over the last two decades."
In 2018, prior to his death, Stan Lee filed a $1 billion lawsuit against POW! which was later dropped. In August 2019, J.C. Lee sought to sever ties with POW! and its parent company Camsin International, which acquired POW! in May 2017.
"When Stan Lee died in November 2017, his daughter, as his only heir and Trustee of his Estate, gathered a forensic team of lawyers and accountants to investigate the facts surrounding the actions of Stan Lee's supposed partners with whom Lee had stopped communicating during the last year of his life," continues the complaint. "In so doing, it was learned the extent to which the rights to Stan Lee's intellectual property had been looted, muddied and entangled by POW! and a range of bad actors enabled by POW!."
Lee is asking for full reversion of all of Stan Lee's IP from POW!, a voiding of all rights agreements between Stan Lee and POW!, "compensatory damages, plus interest" of an unspecified amount, court costs, and any further relief which the court might deem appropriate.
Update: A spokesperson for POW! Entertainment contacted Newsarama after the publication of this story, offering us this statement in response. It follows in its unedited form.
“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.
“J.C. Lee and others have unsuccessfully brought these very same arguments to court in multiple cases over the past 20 years, unfortunately, even leveling these arguments against her father when he was still alive. In those prior cases, the court system ruled in POWs favor, confirming without question POW! is the legal and proper owner of these rights. We are more than confident that this case will be promptly disposed of by the courts.
“What is truly saddening for those at POW!, many of whom have been Stan’s Closest confidants, friends, and business associates for so many years, is to see his estranged daughter using Stan’s name in such a brazen and transparent effort to gain media attention and extract some financial settlement. The reality is that Stan Lee himself left specific instructions, including legal declarations, specifying that JC Lee is not to have any control, say, claim, right, or interest in or to the intellectual property that Stan left behind. Stan’s own instructions dictate that JC Lee is not to have any involvement whatsoever in the commercial development of Stan’s intellectual property. POW! is now, and always has been, Stan Lee’s company and his legacy and will be forever, the way he wanted it to be.
“All of the past legal actions are a matter of public record and plainly show that the present legal action is nothing more than a perverse publicity stunt.”