Creative genius Stan Lee was responsible for iconic characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor. Stan Lee’s recent passing has left many wondering what happens to intellectual property after the death of the owner or creator of the IP.
Like a rare first edition comic book, intellectual property rights can be highly valuable assets, and the transfer of such assets should be planned for accordingly. Intellectual property may be transferred through a written document during the owner’s lifetime, bequeathed through estate planning documents, or transferred through intestate succession laws after the owner’s death.
Original works of authorship such as The Amazing Spider-Man comic books, The Avengers films, and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction video game are protectable by copyright. Many authors, like Stan Lee, transfer ownership of their copyrights to other entities long before their death. Federal copyright protection for works created after 1978 generally lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. For a work made for hire or an anonymous work, copyright protection lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.
Distinctive terms such as “SPIDER-MAN”, “HULK” or even “SUPER HEROES” (jointly owned by competitors Marvel and DC Comics) are protectable by trademark law. A recipient of a trademark must continue use of the mark in commerce to ensure ongoing protection, and must periodically renew the trademark as required by the United States Patent and Trademark office and/or state agencies.
Finally, transfers or assignments of copyrights and trademarks should be recorded with the US Copyright office, US Patent and Trademark office, and/or appropriate state agencies.
– Stephanie Boomershine is an experienced intellectual property attorney with Bogin, Munns, & Munns, a full service law firm with offices in Orlando, Clermont, Kissimmee, Orange City, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Melbourne, Gainesville, and Leesburg, Florida. Ms. Boomershine works out of the Orlando office and welcomes questions and comments regarding the above and can be reached at [email protected]
To consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer today, call 855-686-6752
The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.