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Friday, 12 December 2014

U.S. Supreme Court to hear dispute over Spider-Man toy royalties............

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal made by an inventor of a Spider-Man toy who says an outdated legal precedent has prevented him from earning deserved royalties.
By taking the case of Stephen Kimble and an associate, Robert Grabb, against Walt Disney Co's Marvel Entertainment LLC, the high court agreed to consider whether to overturn a 50-year-old court ruling that said royalty payments generally do not need to be made after a patent has expired.
In 1991, Kimble obtained a patent for his invention, a wristband that shoots foam string intended to resemble spider webs like those superhero Spider-Man is known for.
Marvel, which had met with Kimble about his idea, later produced a toy called the Web Blaster. After an earlier round of litigation in 2001, Kimble assigned his patent to Marvel in return for a lump sum payment of $516,000 and a 3 percent royalty fee.
Further litigation commenced in 2008 when Kimble claimed breach of contract. It was then that Marvel said that the 1964 Supreme Court ruling, Brulotte v. Thys Co, meant it would not be required to pay the royalty fees once the patent expired in 2010.
In 2010, a federal judge in Arizona ruled against Kimble. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision in July 2013, saying it was bound by the Supreme Court precedent. The high court is expected to rule by the end of June.
The case is Kimble v. Marvel, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-720.