After the decades of headache over who created Superman and Superboy, who currently owns the character outright, and who owes whom how much money, the latest court decision between the Siegel estate, DC and Warner Bros. Entertainment, should embolden the conglomerate to move forward with other Superman related projects.Â The latest suit between the parties had the Siegel estate arguing that DC gave Warner Bros. a “sweetheart deal” in licensing the Superman character for Superman Returns and the Smallville series, resulting in the family getting less money than they believe they should have.
For those who haven’t been following the multiple lawsuits surrounding Superman, the Siegel’s currently own one-half of the Superman property, and thus are entitled to one half of any licensing money that DC brings in on the property. Unfortunately, the Honorable Stephen G. Larson didn’t see it the same way, and ruled in favor of Warner Bros. and DC saying that even though the money DC received for the licensing rights for Superman Returns was on the low side, it wasn’t unreasonably low.
DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment are very gratified by the courtâ€™s thorough and well-reasoned decision in this matter. The decision validates what DC and Warner Bros. have maintained from the beginning, which is that when they do business with each other, they always strive for â€“ and achieve â€“ fair market value in their transactions. We are very pleased that the court found there was no merit to plaintiffsâ€™ position that the Superman deals were unfair to DC Comics and, by extension, the plaintiffs.
It is a tricky case to be sure, and sometimes there are instances where the subsidiary of one company gets or gives a better deal because of the financial relationship. I have seen it hands on with magazine advertising, so the Siegel estate did have the right to move forward with suit.
While the Siegels may not be getting any more money from these particular deals, there seems to be some concern on the judge’s part that the Siegels may be able to file another lawsuit over the film reversion rights. Seems Warner Bros. has the exclusive right to develop the Superman property for other films so long as DC retains copyright ownership. This means Warner Bros. has no fear of the film rights reverting back to DC after a set period of time, meaning the company can take its time in developing a new film. No new Superman films being made at the moment, means the Siegel estate can’t get more money. This clearly isn’t the end of the Siegel/DC/Warner Bros. lawsuits, and we’ll try to keep it sorted out as new ones pop up.