September 30, 2003

We Now Know Who Owns Captain America [6:17 pm]

Dispute Over Captain America Is Settled

Marvel Enterprises Inc., publisher of “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” comics, and the comics creator Joe Simon said yesterday that they had settled their legal dispute over the superhero Captain America.

The company said in a statement that Mr. Simon had granted Marvel all the copyrights he has to the character, which he invented with the artist Jack Kirby in 1940. Other terms of the settlement were not announced. Mr. Kirby died in 1994. Mr. Simon had contended that he made an oral agreement to sell rights to the Captain America story in 1940 to a Marvel predecessor.

“We’re talking about an arrangement that was never committed to paper and took place 63 years ago,” said Ross Charap, a copyright lawyer who represented Mr. Simon from 1999 to 2002.

The accord sets the stage for Marvel to transform Captain America into a star of movies, video games and theme park rides. Mr. Simon sought to reclaim Captain America copyrights under a 1976 law that allowed artists to terminate the assignment of rights to works created before 1978.

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