Transfer Pricing Associates

Winklevoss and superman

post Tuesday February 26, 2013



A recent ruling by a California district court gave Warner Brothers a decisive legal victory in its ongoing copyright case involving Superman and the family of Jerry Siegel. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals awarded ownership of the extremely lucrative copyright to Warner Brothers after a long and drawn out legal fight. The 9th Circuit Court cited the precedent that was established by the famous case involving the Winklevoss twins versus Mark Zuckerburg. This decision ruled that a district judge had mistakenly granted the Siegel Heirs partial ownership of the copyright.

This ruling was focused on a 2001 agreement between the Siegel heirs and Warner Brothers. The Siegel heirs claimed that the agreement was not completely finalized and therefore was not enforceable. The precedent established in the 2011 Winklevoss case was that under California law, a “term sheet” could indeed be enforced.  The agreement that had been in place between the Siegel heirs and Warner Brothers then became enforceable, contrary to the original 2008 ruling by the district judge. It is clear that the court was able to make its decision based on the Winklevoss case.

The timing of the ruling is favorable to Warner Brothers for many reasons. Superman is set to make another appearance on the big screen with the upcoming blockbuster Man of Steel.It is a very convenient time for Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment as the upcoming movie is set to bring in a large amount of revenue for the studio. Because of this ruling, Warner Brother is able to continue the production of “derivative works” based on the Superman character without paying royalties to the Siegels as co-owners. This allows for more flexibility for the studio as it plans to produce potential Man of Steelsequels as well as the upcoming Justice League film.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

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