This case was last updated from PACER on 09/25/2021 at 07:50:58 (UTC).

Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Michele Hart-Rico et al

Case Summary

On September 24, 2021, Marvel Characters, Inc. (“MCI” or “Plaintiff”), represented by Daniel M. Petrocelli, Danielle Rebecca Feuer, Kendall Kelly Alexis Turner and Molly Mather Lens of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Michele Hart-Rico (“Hart-Rico”) and Buz Donato F. Rico III (“Buz Rico”), (together, the “Defendants”). Plaintiff filed suit seeking declaratory relief, along with attorneys’ fees and costs, for deciding the actual and justiciable controversy concerning the validity of the alleged termination notice and the respective rights of Marvel, on the one hand, and Hart-Rico and Buz Rico, on the other. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California with Judges Diane Gujarati and Taryn A. Merkl presiding. 

 

In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, “At all relevant times, Don Rico was engaged as a comic book writer by Marvel to contribute to various comic books (the “Works”).” “Marvel editorial staff had the right to exercise creative control over Don Rico’s contributions, and Marvel paid Don Rico a per-page rate for his contributions. When Don Rico worked for Marvel, he did so with the expectation that Marvel would pay him.” “Don Rico did not obtain any ownership interest in or to any contributions he made.” 

 

Plaintiff further alleged that, “Marvel registered copyrights in and to the Works, which are copyrightable subject matter under the copyright laws of the United States. The Register of Copyrights recorded the registrations, as set forth in Exhibit 1 to this complaint. Marvel has complied in all relevant respects with all laws governing copyright.” 

 

Plaintiff further alleged that, “On or about June 10, 2021, Hart-Rico and Buz Rico served a notice of termination on Marvel. Hart-Rico and Buz Rico claim to have a sufficient interest in the Works to exercise purported rights of termination under the termination provisions of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 304(c), and the regulations thereunder.” “The notice specifically seeks to “terminate all pre-January 1, 1978 exclusive or non-exclusive grants of the transfer or license of the renewal copyright(s) in and to” certain “illustrated comic book stor[ies]” that were allegedly “authored or co-authored” by Don Rico and published by Marvel in 1964. The notice specifies an effective termination date of June 11, 2023.”

 

The only claim for relief laid down by Plaintiff is for the declaratory relief as to the validity of the notice, wherein Plaintiff alleged that, Hart-Rico and Buz Rico have served Marvel with the termination notice which is invalid as a matter of law because the Works were created as works made for hire, and there are no termination rights for works made for hire. The Works were made for hire because they were created at Marvel’s instance and expense. Any contributions Don Rico made to the Works were done at the instance of Marvel’s editorial staff, which had the right to exercise creative control over Don Rico’s contributions. 

  

In the prayer for relief, Plaintiff requested the court for a judgment against Hart-Rico and Buz Rico for a declaration that the termination notice is invalid, and for Marvel’s attorneys’ fees and costs incurred and for such other and further relief as the court deems just and equitable. 

 

This case summary may not reflect the current position of the parties to this litigation or the status of this case. Sign up to view the latest case updates and court documents.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    2:21-CV-07624

  • Filing Date:

    09/24/2021

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Intellectual Property - Copyright

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

Dolly M. Gee

Referral Judge

Maria A. Audero

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

Marvel Characters, Inc.

Defendants

Michele Hart-Rico

Buz Donato F. Rico III

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

Daniel M. Petrocelli

Attorney at O Melveny and Myers LLP

1999 Avenue Of The Stars 8Th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Danielle Rebecca Feuer

Attorney at O Melveny and Myers LLP

1999 Avenue Of The Stars 8Th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Kendall Kelly Alexis Turner

Attorney at O Melveny and Myers LLP

1625 I Street Nw

Washington, DC 20006

Molly M. Lens

Attorney at O Melveny and Myers LLP

1999 Avenue Of The Stars 8Th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90067

 

Court Documents

#10

(#10) REPORT ON THE FILING OF AN ACTION regarding a copyright (Initial Notification) filed by Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#9

(#9) NOTICE TO COUNSEL RE: Copyright, Patent and Trademark Reporting Requirements. Counsel shall file the appropriate AO-120 and/or AO-121 form with the Clerk within 10 days. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#8

(#8) 21 DAY Summons Issued re Complaint (Attorney Civil Case Opening), #1 as to Defendants Michele Hart-Rico, Buz Donato F. Rico III. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#7

(#7) Notice to Counsel Re Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#6

(#6) NOTICE TO PARTIES OF COURT-DIRECTED ADR PROGRAM filed. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#5

(#5) NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT to District Judge Dolly M. Gee and Magistrate Judge Maria A. Audero. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#4

(#4) Certification and NOTICE of Interested Parties filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc., identifying The Walt Disney Company. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#3

(#3) Request for Clerk to Issue Summons on Complaint (Attorney Civil Case Opening), #1 filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

#2

(#2) CIVIL COVER SHEET filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

1 #2

Exhibit 2 - Termination Notice

1 #1

Exhibit 1 - Chart of Relevant Copyright Certificates

1 #1

Main Document

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#10) REPORT ON THE FILING OF AN ACTION regarding a copyright (Initial Notification) filed by Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#9) NOTICE TO COUNSEL RE: Copyright, Patent and Trademark Reporting Requirements. Counsel shall file the appropriate AO-120 and/or AO-121 form with the Clerk within 10 days. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#8) 21 DAY Summons Issued re Complaint (Attorney Civil Case Opening), #1 as to Defendants Michele Hart-Rico, Buz Donato F. Rico III. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#7) Notice to Counsel Re Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#6) NOTICE TO PARTIES OF COURT-DIRECTED ADR PROGRAM filed. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#5) NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT to District Judge Dolly M. Gee and Magistrate Judge Maria A. Audero. (ghap) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#4) Certification and NOTICE of Interested Parties filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc., identifying The Walt Disney Company. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#3) Request for Clerk to Issue Summons on Complaint (Attorney Civil Case Opening), #1 filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#2) CIVIL COVER SHEET filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#1) COMPLAINT Receipt No: ACACDC-32040447 - Fee: $402, filed by Plaintiff Marvel Characters, Inc.. (Attachments: #1 Exhibit 1 - Chart of Relevant Copyright Certificates, #2 Exhibit 2 - Termination Notice) (Attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli added to party Marvel Characters, Inc.(pty:pla))(Petrocelli, Daniel) (Entered: 09/24/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases represented by Lawyer Molly M Lens

Latest cases represented by Lawyer Daniel Petrocelli