Nov 6th 2012 By: Graeme McMillan
Having seemingly secured the rights to Joe Shuster's half of the rights to Superman
, DC Comics and parent company Time Warner's never-ending battle over collaborator Jerry Siegel's share of the rights
continued yesterday as the case went before a Federal Appeals Court.Arguments were heard by a California Appeals Court in Pasadena, CA, yesterday
over whether or not Laura Siegel Larson -- Siegel's daughter -- has the right to terminate her family's share of Time Warner and DC's existing copyright to the Superman character as ruled by a Californian court in 2008. Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer working for DC, argued that the 1938 copyright that would be terminated under existing US copyright law is actually invalid due to a 2006 agreement between Joanne Siegel, Larson's mother (and Jerry's wife), and DC from 2006. "At the very minimum, we believe we're entitled to a trial," Petrocelli told the court, going on to say that, should the Appeals Court agree that the 2006 agreement supersedes the 1938 agreement -- or the 1947 post-lawsuit agreement, or the 1973-1975 lawsuit and subsequent agreements -- between DC and Siegel, it would "dispose of the entire dispute."
Marc Toberoff, the attorney working for Larson, is familiar with this argument, as he has recently lost a lawsuit for the Shuster half of the rights to DC on very similar grounds (In that case, a 1992 agreement between DC and Shuster's sister invalidated any future claim to the rights, it was ruled last month
). He argued that the 2006 agreement was itself invalid as DC/Warners changed the royalty terms after the fact, something that Judge Sidney Thomas seemed unconvinced about yesterday; he reportedly asked Toberoff "If there's a legitimate offer on the 16th [of October, 2006] and the acceptance on the 19th, does it really matter what happens afterward? This suggests there's probably a genuine issue of material fact."
No ruling was handed down from the three judge Appeals Court yesterday. Keep looking up, in the sky, for developments.