Our weekly SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, January 21, 2013 will be a discussion of two comic book rights disputes.  Brief synopses of the cases appear below.

DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp. Case No. 11-56934 (9th Cir. Jan 10, 2013) (available here)

This case arises from the district court’s denial of DC Comics’ motion, pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, to strike certain of DC Comics’ state law claims. In Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir.2003), the 9th Circuit held that the collateral order doctrine permits a party to take an interlocutory appeal of an order denying such a motion. The 9th Circuit determines that their decision in Batzel remains good law after the Supreme Court’s intervening decision in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, 130 S.Ct. 599 (2009). As a result, the 9th Circuit has jurisdiction over the interlocutory appeal of a refusal to grant a motion to strike based upon California’s anti-SLAPP law.

Marvel Worldwide, Inc. v. Kirby et al., Case No. 10 Civ. 141 (S.D.N.Y July 28, 2011) (available here)

This case involves the rights of Jack Kirby, an artist and/or co-creator of a number of famous Marvel comic book characters.  The question presented by the case, in the form of cross-motions to strike, is whether or not the drawings that Mr. Kirby made regarding many of Marvel’s most famous characters were works made for hire for Marvel or were his own copyrights that he assigned to Marvel.  The reason this is important being that Mr. Kirby later attempted to terminate his purported assignment of all copyrights to Marvel pursuant to a provision of the 1978 Copyright Act.  The S.D.N.Y reasons, based upon the 1909 Copyright Act’s “interest and expense” test for work for hire works, that Mr. Kirby was never the holder of any of these copyrights and, therefore, grants Marvel’s motion to strike and denies the motion of Mr. Kirby’s heirs.

All are invited to join us in our discussion during the SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, January 21, 2013 at Noon in our Westlake Village office. This activity is approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit. If you will be joining us, please RSVP to Noelle Attalla by 9 am Monday morning.