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On B-Movies and Comics: Marvel Settles, Troma Can't Sue in NY

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 11, 2013 3:54 PM

Whether you're into zombies, monsters or superheroes, the news coming out of the Second Circuit reads more like updates from Comic Con than a Court of Appeals. In just a matter of days, the Second Circuit decided a case against B-Movie impresario Troma, and suspended trial deadlines pending a settlement in a Marvel case.

Troma Case Dismissal Affirmed

Back in 2009, Troma authorized Lance Robbins to negotiate with a German company to license the rights to two Troma films: "Citizen Toxie, Toxic Avenger Part IV" and "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead" (Troma only holds distributions rights to the latter). What Troma did not know, was that a week before Robbins' 30-day negotiation term, he and his cohort King Brett Lauter had already given a distribution license to the German company. The two bought German-language DVDs of the movie online, gave them to the German company and pocketed the "licensing" fee. When Troma found out, it sued the two in New York.

The trial court dismissed Troma's case because New York's long arm statute was not long enough, and the Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that theory of the location of the injury used should be that of "'traditional commercial tort cases' in which 'the place where [the plaintiff's] business is lost or threatened' exerts a significant gravitational influence on the jurisdictional analysis." The court noted that Germany or California (where the scheme was made) may be proper venues.

Marvel Settles with Alleged Ghost Rider Creator

Marvel and its "Marvel Method" can't seem to stay out of court lately -- we're guessing because many of its characters are hitting the big screen and raking in the big bucks. In a case dealing with its "Ghost Rider" character, Marvel was sued by the alleged creator of the character, Gary Friedrich in 2011. The district court held that two contracts Friedrich had signed in the 70s had the effect of him handing his rights to Marvel.

On appeal, the Second Circuit remanded for trial because the court found that the contracts were ambiguous on their face, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Now, just a few months after the decision, the parties have announced that they will settle the case.

Reuters reports that Friedrich's lawyer stated in a letter to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest: "[Friedrich and Marvel] have amicably agreed to resolve all claims between, among, and against all parties." In the mean time, Judge Forrest has suspended all deadlines, including the trial date set for December 16.

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