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Stan Lee’s Daughter Says Partners Defrauded Him Out of IP

Sept. 27, 2019, 1:52 PM

Legendary comic artist Stan Lee’s business partners tanked his company to win the rights to his intellectual property in bankruptcy, his daughter says in a complaint in the Central District of California.

Joan Celia Lee sued POW! “to not only expose manifold frauds visited upon Stan Lee from 2001 through 2018 by Defendant, its CEO Gill Champion and a range of unsavory characters, but to also vindicate and clear title to Stan Lee’s intellectual property,” the complaint says.

Lee created iconic Marvel characters including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and “hundreds more.” Lee formed Stan Lee Entertainment and transferred his IP rights to the company after being fired from Marvel when it declared bankruptcy, the complaint says. Lee’s partners in the company included Gill Champion and his personal lawyer Arthur Lieberman.

Champion and Lieberman allegedly used the dot.com crash of 2000 “to engineer the financial collapse of Lee’s company through a series of financing guaranteed to collapse the company’s stock so that the company could be placed into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.” The partners formed POW! Entertainment and “induced” Lee to abandon his company and join them “to attempt to replicate the success of Lee’s company for their personal benefit by purloining its assets under the subterfuge of a fraudulent and unconsummated Bankruptcy sale,” the complaint says.

The complaint says the partners deceived Lee into thinking he retained his IP rights, “which they knew and concealed remained assigned to and the property of Stan Lee Entertainment.”

POW!'s “current alleged and erstwhile parent,” Camsing International, has also “been engaged over the last three years in a massive $1.2 billion finance fraud on the major investment funds in China using the credibility and perceived value of the Lee Rights to advance their criminal enterprise,” the complaint says, noting that Camsing founder Vivian Lo was arrested in China in June.

“The ongoing frauds by POW! in assigning licenses to use the Lee Rights to innocent parties around the world must be curtailed at the earliest opportunity for this Court to act,” the Sept. 26 complaint says.

Causes of Action: Declaratory judgment as to ownership of Lee’s IP rights, name, and likeness; cybersquatting.

Relief: Damages, injunctions.

Response: POW! didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Freund Legal represents Joan Lee.

The case is Lee v. POW! Entm’t Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-08353, 9/26/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com