Marvel Reaches Settlement With Jack Kirby Estate Ahead Of SCOTUS Showdown

Marvel and the estate of Jack Kirby have announced that their longstanding dispute has been amicably settled just days before the Supreme Court was set to take the case into conference.

The parties issued a joint statement announcing the resolution.

“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”

Jack Kirby, a comics legend, was responsible for the creation or co-creation of many Marvel characters, as Deadline notes, along with his fellow comics king Stan Lee. While Lee was a Marvel employee, however, Kirby’s work was done for hire, leaving him denied the rights to many of his creations. He nevertheless played a pivotal role in bringing Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the original X-Men, and a multitude of other Marvel characters to the page.

The legal battle between the Kirby estate and Marvel began in 2009, when the estate sent termination notices to Marvel and 45 of its licensees, including Sony, Fox, and Universal, The Hollywood Reporter notes. Marvel sued in 2010, and a judge, as well as the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, found that Kirby had contributed his materials as “work made for hire” during the 1950s and 1960s. In the court’s view, Marvel was considered the statutory author, which meant Kirby and his heirs had no termination rights under the 1976 Copyright Act.

After several Intellectual Property veterans filed amicus briefs on the matter, the Supreme Court ordered Marvel to respond to the Kirby estate’s petition for cert (or judicial review). The turn of events was unusual, as petitions for cert are often routinely denied. Marvel responded, urging the Supreme Court to not review Lisa Kirby v. Marvel Characters.

Details of the settlement were not revealed by either party involved. Following the announcement of the settlement, the Kirbys have notified SCOTUS that they wish for their petition against Marvel to be dismissed.

Jack Kirby’s creations have helped to form the basis of a media empire for Marvel, including a cinematic universe so complex that it is now being examined in at least one college course, as The Inquisitr previously noted. Outlived by his creations for Marvel, Jack Kirby passed away in 1994.

[Image via Mashable]