Disney settles with former Marvel artist's estate over Spider-Man, Doctor Strange rights

J. Clara Chan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Walt Disney Co. has settled with the estate of a former Marvel artist that claimed rights to Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, effectively ending a lengthy legal battle between the entertainment giant and a group of comic book artists over the copyright of popular superhero characters.

"We reached an amicable resolution regarding this interesting case," said Marc Toberoff, the attorney representing the estate of Spider-Man co-creator and Doctor Strange creator Steve Ditko.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Ditko, along with the artists Don Heck, Don Rico, Gene Colan, and Lawrence D. Lieber, first submitted copyright termination notices to Marvel in 2021 in an effort to reclaim the rights to characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor. All the artists except for Lieber, the younger brother of Marvel legend Stan Lee, were dead at the time of the filings.


The 2021 termination notice filed by the estate of Ditko, who died in 2018, singled out titles like "Doctor Strange Master of Black Magic!" and multiple issues of "Amazing Spider-Man."

That same year, Disney sued the artists, arguing that the artists did not have legal ownership to the characters because they were works made for hire under Marvel. Disney was able to resolve its disputes with all parties except for Ditko's estate earlier this year.

Attorneys representing Disney and Marvel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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