The daughter of Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee has filed a lawsuit against his business associates in a California federal court. As Lee’s sole heir and estate trustee, she accuses business people running POW! Entertainment of misleading her father into reassigning rights to his valuable comic book characters and stories.

The lawsuit alleges that on at least six occasions, Lee’s business partners manipulated the comic book creator who died in November 2018 into giving up ownership of some of his intellectual property. After his death, his daughter hired lawyers and accountants to examine business dealings conducted as far back as the 1990s but especially during the period of 2001 to 2017. The forensic team concluded that Lee’s intellectual property rights had been looted by people acting in bad faith within POW! Entertainment. Lee had set up POW! in the 1990s to serve as the company holding his intellectual property rights. The lawsuit wants the rights to Lee’s likeness and name to be restored to his estate along with declaratory relief regarding ownership of intellectual property.

A representative from POW! described the lawsuit as “family drama”. The company expects the court to dismiss the claims of Lee’s heir. Prior to Lee’s death, he had initiated a lawsuit against the company. In that suit, Lee himself said that POW! executives induced him to sign documents or just forged his signature. He dropped that lawsuit before he died.

Legal battles over intellectual property depend on close examinations of documentation that details the ownership of rights. A person with questions about intellectual property rights and licensing might consult an attorney. A legal evaluation might help a client understand the nuances of ownership and create a strategy for defending rights from theft or infringement.