On the 75th anniversary today of Superman’s debut, Warner Bros got some more good news about the Man of Steel. The last elements of WB and its subsidiary DC Comics legal issues with the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel effectively came to an end Thursday with a US District Court ruling on the rights to Superboy and some Superman ads. “The Court holds that the 2001 settlement agreement between DC and the Siegels re-granted the Siegels’ Superman, Superboy, and a Superman advertisements that ran in the 1930s to DC in return for substantial advances and royalties,” wrote Judge Otis Wright III today (read it here). “The remainder of Defendants’ Motion is therefore Granted and this litigation of superhero proportions now draws to a close,” the federal judge added in not uncharacteristic fashion.
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This order adds to the March 20 decision by Wright granting WB and DC a partial summary judgment in cases brought by Laura Siegel Larson and the estate of Joanne Siegel. The order confirms the studio and its subsidiary’s long contention that the multi-million dollar 2001 agreement between itself and the heirs granted them the rights to Superman character. In a February filing for summary judgment, WB and DC asked the judge to reconfirm the earlier ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in January that basically gave them full rights to the superhero character and the freedom to move forward with its Superman big screen reboot Man Of Steel and other related properties without the threat of any more legal action by the creators’ heirs and estates. The Ninth Circuit ruling in January overturned a 2008 ruling that the Siegel heirs still controlled the lucrative rights to the Man from Krypton and his younger self because a binding agreement was never actually reached by the parties 12 years ago as WB and DC claim. While ending the federal court aspect of this case, Judge Wright did suggest in today’s ruling that any additional legal action should be filed in state court under a breach of contract status. Another suit from the heirs of the other Superman co-creator Joe Shuster is currently working its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In this case, Warner Bros is represented by Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline of LA firm O’Melveny & Myers. Laura Siegel Larson and the estate of Jerry Siegel are represented by attorney Marc Toberoff, Pablo Arredondo and David Harris of Toberoff & Associates.