Ninety-five-year-old Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee isn't playing around. According to a report from TMZ, he has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment—a production company that he co-founded.
Lee claims that the company conspired to steal his name, image, and likeness during a fraudulent sale to a Chinese business in 2017.
Stan Lee says POW! Entertainment CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion didn't disclose the details of their sale to Hong Kong-based company Camsing International before the deal closed. According to a complaint filed in L.A. County Superior Court, he was asked by his business partners to sign a non-exclusive license with POW! for the use of his name and likeness for creative works. But what he was really signing was an agreement that allowed POW! to have "the exclusive right to use Lee's name, identity, image and likeness on a worldwide basis in perpetuity."
He says he was grieving the death of his late wife and was legally blind due to macular degeneration when the deal went down. Lee's attorney Adam Grant claims that his signature was either forged, lifted, or induced by a bait-and-switch tactic.
"Lee does not recall anyone reading the Illegitimate Document to him, and, due to his advanced macular degeneration, he could not have read it himself," Grant writes in court documents. "While the Illegitimate Document purports to contain Lee's signature, Lee never knowingly signed it. Either Duffy, Champion, Oliveraz [sic] or POW! (1) forged Lee's signatures; (2) lifted Lee's signature from another document and imposed it on the Illegitimate Document; or, (3) someone, likely one of the Defendants, induced Lee to sign the Illegitimate Document by using a bait and switch tactic: telling Lee it was something else."
The lawsuit also alleges that the company took over his social media accounts and impersonated Lee without his knowledge.
Lee and his legal team are requesting an injunction that declares the agreement invalid and unenforceable, plus damages in excess of $1 billion dollars.
This lawsuit comes a month after Lee sued his former business associate Jerado “Jerry” Olivarez for $20 million over shady dealings, which included a time that Olivarez allegedly recruited a nurse to withdraw Stan’s blood so it could be sold as a collector’s item.