Warner Bros. scored a major victory Thursday in the legal battle over the rights to the Superman character when a federal appeals court panel ruled that the heirs of co-creator Jerry Siegel were bound by a 2001 settlement over ownership of the Man of Steel.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal found that a Los Angeles federal court judge 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 “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,” according the ruling.
The panel noted that the letter included five pages of terms outlining compensation for the heirs and the rights to the character.
“Today’s ruling vindicates DC Comics’ long-held position that it entered into a binding agreement with the Jerry Siegel family in 2001,” according to a Warner Bros. statement. “We are extremely pleased that Superman’s adventures can continue to be enjoyed across all media platforms worldwide for generations to come.”
Warner Bros. plans to release the latest Superman film, titled “Man of Steel,” this summer.