(CN) – Marvel comics sued the children of its longtime writer Jack Kirby, disputing their claim that in 2014 Kirby’s estate will assume ownership of the X-Men and other characters he helped create.
Kirby’s four adult children sued Marvel Worldwide in September 2009, claiming that their father, who also co-wrote “Spider-man,” “The Fantastic Four” and “The Incredible Hulk,” and other iconic comic titles, died in 1994 without proper payment or recognition for his work.
Kirby’s children claimed the 1976 Copyright Act allowed them to serve Marvel with notices terminating its rights to their father’s work, beginning in 2014.
But Marvel claims Kirby made all of his creations under “works made for hire” contracts with Marvel predecessors.
Under the agreements, Marvel is the effective author, according to the complaint in Manhattan Federal Court.
Marvel claims Kirby’s work was “done at the instance and expense” of Marvel, that it paid Kirby, and that Marvel editors “had the right to exercise creative control” over his creations.
Marvel wants the court to declare the Kirby children’s termination notices invalid. The children are Lisa Kirby, Barbara Kirby, Neal Kirby and Susan Kirby.
Marvel is represented by James Quinn with Weil, Gotshal & Manges and David Fleischer with Paul, Hastings & Janofsky.