Comic book legend Stan Lee has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against an entertainment company he co-founded in 2001 alleging that his business partners were conspiring to steal his name, image and likeness and sell it to a firm in China.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleged that the defendants at Pow! Entertainment "forged or fraudulently obtained a signature from Lee" as part of the scheme.
Lee alleges his co-founders, Shane Duffy and Gill Champion deceived him into signing over his name, image and likeness to Pow! on a wholly exclusive basis. The lawsuit says Lee's signature was either forged, transferred or even gotten through a bait-and-switch tactic, fooling Lee into thinking he was signing another contract due to his failing eyesight.
"In addition, POW! took control of Lee's personal social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, thereby impersonating Lee before a combined 15 million followers worldwide,'' according to the lawsuit.
So far, POW! Entertainment has yet to respond to the lawsuit filed by Lee. In April, the company offered a statement regarding its co-founder, expressing concern for Lee's well-being following reports that the comic book legend had been the victim of elder abuse.
"We at POW! Entertainment take great pride in our continuing work to create exciting new Stan Lee content and characters as well as safeguarding the legacy of the greatest story teller of our time. We are also fans and share the heartfelt admiration and love of the community who have voiced their sincere concern for Stan's well-being.
"We, like you, simply want Stan to enjoy life, connect with his fans when he is able, and most importantly spend his time going forward without impediment or stress. One thing we know for certain is when something is off, the fans bond together. We are touched by the outpouring of love for our Chief Creative Officer and friend, and we proudly stand with you for Stan.''
The 95-year-old Lee is best known as the former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics where he created a host of beloved comic book characters including Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron Man.