Truth, Justice, and the American Way

and, in the IP world, maybe soon coming to Canada. But this message isn’t about the upcoming Canadian version of the US DMCA.

Instead, it’s about American ingenuity, the “if at first you don’t succeed motto” and Warner Bros. ongoing attempts to control as much as it can of the profit-making capacity of the Superman character. Read about it here. The caption of the article is “Warner Bros. So Distraught Over Losing Superman Rights, It Personally Sues The Lawyer Who Won”, subtitled “from the getting-a-bit-personal dept”. The background is that WB was recently forced to return some of rights to the estate(s) of the Stupe’s creators. It’s now suing the lawyer who acted for the estates. The site (Techdirt) provides a link to a pdf copy of the complaint.

Techdirt’s opening gets right to the heart of the matter.

Apparently, Warner Bros. (a frequent target of Toberoff) has had enough and has decided to sue Toberoff personally, claiming that… well… basically that he’s a jerk and a savvy business person, which I didn’t quite realize was illegal. Specifically, they seem to be claiming that Toberoff “manipulated” the creators of Superman, having them hand over a large percentage of the rights to the character if he was able to successfully manage the termination.

It’s just a bit incongruous that the surname of the first of the lawyers listed as representing WB is Petrocelli.

h/t Techdirt


  1. I guess a corporation just has no capacity for embarrassment … since this is completely shameless.

    This is a California suit. California has an anti-SLAPP law that might apply, and maybe it’s a lesson if it doesn’t. (Maybe litigation is not ‘expression’ – what do you think?)

    Ontario’s Rule 25 allows courts to throw out abusive suits, though the Rule does not get much used – not as often as would seem justified. This one is ready-made for such a rule.

  2. David Cheifetz

    The lawyer whose name is first on the list of lawyers representing Warner Bros has gained celebrity status in US circles. One of his celebrated (?) and profitable clients was Skilling of Enron in Skilling’s less than successful defence of the criminal charges against him arising out the Enron collapse. I think Skilling received something like 6 or 7 consecutive life sentences. (Gotta love that US approach, no?) Skillings’ lawyers were paid somewhere in the area of $70 million I believe, to defend him. I read, somewhere, that another (no doubt jealous of the fees earned) US lawyer said something like that that he’d have been prepared to do that for half the fee, but the best he could guarantee was a reduction in the sentence by 1/2.

    Do you mean litigation (the right to sue?) as freedom of expression? I don’t know. It’s certainly an access to justice issue and that certainly is inextricably connected to the ability to ensure freedom of expression exists.