The move comes after heirs of five Marvel authors filed dozens of termination notices with the U.S. Copyright Office. If they were to succeed, the notices would not prevent Marvel from using the disputed characters, which were created by multiple collaborators. They would however require the studio to make payments to the heirs.
In the lawsuits, Marvel argues that the characters were created under “work for hire” arrangements, and that the heirs have no valid claim to the copyrights.
Marvel points to a key case involving Jack Kirby, who co-created “The X-Men,” “Thor” and “Iron Man.” In that case, Kirby’s heirs sought to reclaim copyright to his creations, but the federal courts sided with Marvel, finding that the characters were made under work-for-hire arrangements.