Sunday, June 29, 2008

Superboy lawsuit: has a settlement been reached? (updated)

Update 9pm Sunday night: Jeff Trexler, who knows way more about this law stuff than I do, analyzes the news (see below).

Thanks to Sam for pointing out this nugget that I missed earlier in the discussion of the DC Nation panel at Wizard World Chicago this weekend, as reported by Newsarama:
Didio also paused to point out the special nature of Legion of Three Worlds. “We’ve got Geoff, we’ve got Geroge [sic], we’ve got SuperBOY Prime (yes, we can say that again).”

You may have noticed that since the Siegels filed their lawsuit claiming copyright to Superboy (the young Clark Kent that lived in Smallville) - coincidentally the same week that Superboy (Kon-El) died in "Infinite Crisis" - DC has not used any character named Superboy, and they've been cautious not to even use the name in convention panels.

That's not simply because, as some think, the Siegels filed suit for the Superboy rights. Kon-El, for example, has nothing whatsoever to do with the suit, and DC (which owns the trademark to the name "Superboy") is free to use the name however and whenever they want. They have chosen not to use it, I presume, out of respect and so as to not antagonize anyone further. (They did, however, change "Superboy" to "young Superman" on the Legion cartoon because of this.) The results of the last lawsuit, currently under appeal, was that the judge overturned a previous ruling that said the Siegels won Superboy and ordered each side to present more evidence showing that there were copyrightable elements in the original Superboy story that were not derivative of Superman (whose copyright DC owned outright at that point).

In the most recent court ruling, in which the Siegels were awarded the copyright to the Superman material in Action Comics #1 back in April, the judge, who is the same for both the Superman and Superboy lawsuits, ordered that:

–The parties are to spend the next 60 days negotiating a settlement.
–After the 60 days is up, the parties are to file a joint report on what happened.
–If they don’t settle, the trial in the Superman case is scheduled to begin on November 4, 2008.
–The court is setting aside ruling on the remaining issues in the Superboy case, along with setting the Superboy trial dates, until after the Superman trial is over.
(summary via Blog@Newsarama)

The 60 days were up in early June. The fact that DiDio says that they can say "Superboy" again suggests an outcome favorable to both parties.

More here (and elsewhere, I'm sure) as it develops. Maybe big news on a panel at San Diego next month?

Update 9pm Sunday night: Jeff Trexler at Newsarama has more. The 60-day deadline was pushed back to the end of June, but the parties haven't reached a settlement yet despite 23 hours of negotiations over four days.
In light of this report, DiDio’s reference to Superboy becomes even more interesting. It could be a sign that the parties, despite not reaching a complete settlement in time for the required report, have at least reached a shared decision regarding Superboy and are optimistic that the resolution of the remaining issues is in sight, if not already accomplished.

Still, for one party to reveal an agreement in principle before the settlement is finalized is not standard practice, particularly given the confidentiality agreement that parties often sign before a mediation begins. DiDio’s statement could be a slip — but it also could be a sign of something else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The world behind the scenes of the superheroes and comics industry starts to be as fascinating as the stories themselves.
I'm sure that a movie that exposes the way the system works would be a hit.