Mattel Wants to Be Designated Master of Masters of the Universe

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The writer of a “He-Man” comic book is making a “baseless and time-barred” claim to rights in the franchise, though Mattel is sole owner of Masters of the Universe, the toymaker said in Federal Court.
     In a declaratory judgment action, Mattel of El Segundo seeks a declaration that Donald Glut has no copyright interest in his work on the decades-old mini-comic series, packaged with the toymaker’s first line of Masters of the Universe action figures.
     Mattel commissioned Glut in 1981 to write four comics, “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds,” and “King of Castle Grayskull,” according to the complaint.
     Glut “admitted long ago” that he wrote works-for-hire stories for the toymaker’s action figures, Mattel said.
     Mattel also pointed to a 2001 interview on Glut’s website that says he was not credited for his work on the series, did not hold a copyright to the work, and received no royalty interest.
     “My work on ‘Masters of the Universe’ taught me one basic lesson: Don’t create anything original, especially concepts that someone else will make millions of dollars from, unless you have a percentage of the profits or part ownership,” Glut said in the interview, which was still online Monday. “It’s a lesson I’ve managed to stick to since my days with He-Man and the gang.”
     Trying to cast Glut’s grumblings as untimely, Mattel highlighted how it has exploited the Masters of the Universe franchise for 30 years through toys, two animated television series in 1983 and 2002, and a 1987 feature film starring Dolph Lundgren.
     “Since his interview in 2001, Glut has continued to stand silently by as Mattel and various third parties have continued to invest in and exploit the Masters of the Universe property,” the 13-page complaint states. “Now, in 2013, more than thirty years after the release of Mattel’s first Masters of the Universe products, Glut has dramatically changed his story.”
     “Glut now claims – despite his multiple statements in writing to the contrary – that his work on Masters of the Universe was not done as a work-for-hire, and that he owns an interest in the copyrights to his works,” Mattel added. “Glut’s claim is both baseless and stale.”
     Glut allegedly now contends that he granted Mattel a license for his work, and that this license expires in 2016.
     The toymaker wants the court to find that Glut made an untimely claim to ownership of Masters of the Universe.
     A voice artist, actor, writer and filmmaker, Glut has dozens of writing credits on animated television series, including 1980s series “The Transformers,” according to IMDb.
     Mattel is represented by Lawrence Iser with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert of Santa Monica.
     The law firm did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. Glut declined to comment.

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