LOS ANGELES – Warner Bros. has scored another victory in the legal battle over the rights to the Superman character.
A Los Angeles federal judge ruled that the heirs of co-creator Jerry Siegel are bound by a 2001 agreement over ownership of the Man of Steel, according to court papers obtained today.
The written decision by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II, dated Wednesday, affirms a January finding by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal that the 12-year-old settlement giving Warner Bros. ownership rights over the character is binding.
The appellate panel determined that a different judge had erred by ruling in favor of Siegel’s heirs, who challenged the validity of the settlement and demanded more ownership rights over the character.
The panel ruled, however, that the judge, who subsequently resigned from the bench, “failed to address whether the October 19, 2001, letter from (Laura Siegel Larson’s) then-attorney constituted acceptance of terms negotiated between the parties, and thus was sufficient to create a contract.”
“We hold, as a matter of law, that the October 19, 2001, letter did constitute such an acceptance,” the ruling states.
The panel noted that the letter included five pages of terms outlining compensation for the heirs and the rights to the character.
Warner Bros. plans to release the latest Superman film, titled “Man of Steel,” this summer.