Over at Blog@ Jeff Trexler decodes some court filings which suggest that DC/Warners MAY expect the Superman case to go to trial. They’ve let go of their previous attorneys (who worked on the Edgar Winter case, among others) and replaced them with Daniel Petrocelli, a very high powered IP lawyer who represented Disney in the epic (and bitter) Winnie the Pooh royalty case, and the Ron Goldman family in a civil case against O.J. Simpson.
Time Warner’s decision to bring on such a high-profile litigator as its new outside counsel would seem to signal that the company does not expect a settlement with the Siegel family in the foreseeable future. It’s equally possible that the hire is itself a negotiation tactic, as it’s not unusual for a party in a lawsuit to bring in big name counsel in an attempt to intimidate a seemingly intractable opponent.
The Superman case, you may recall, involves the heirs of Jerry Siegel suing to regain their half of the copyrights to Superman. Trexler (a lawyer) has been covering the unfolding case for years. Judges have been urging a settlement, but so far neither the Siegels nor DC/WB have blinked.
The Siegel family is represented by high powered attorney Marc Toberoff, himself an expert in IP, having won such cases as the Dukes of Hazzard case, and he recently filed for copyright reassignment on the behalf of Jack Kirby’s heirs. So, basically, you got the Hulk vs Thor of IP lawyers right there.
Trexler has some more background on the lawyers involved in a subsequent posting. Although he doesn’t mention it, the timing coming after the announcement of the new executive team at DC makes speculation on THAT connection intriguing.