Spidey’s Slippery Slope: The Kirbys’ Spectacular Case Against Marvel

Just how serious is Disney/Marvel about producing an Ant-Man movie? Few in the world are likely to be more interested than the children of comics author Jack Kirby who have named  Ant-Man along with Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Thor, Nick Fury a seemingly endless list of comics titles and specific issues in a lawsuit claiming they are the rightful (co-)owners of these creations.

Filed on March 9 in the US District Court in the Central District of California, the complaint filed by Lisa, Barbara, Neal and Susan Kirby as well as the estate of Kirby’s wife, Rosalind, rebquests a trial by jury, seeking unspecified damages against previous and current earnings on these properties of which Disney/Marvel has current control.

Making a very persuasive argument, particularly if it’s all true, the complaint inks a portrait in which a financially strapped Marvel purchased the comics from freelancer Jack Kirby ad hoc — sans contracts and that Kirby created everything on his own time in his own place of residence with his own tools so that he was at no time able to be considered ‘work for hire’ as Disney/Marvel has contended.

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Newly Registered Domains Suggest Projects, Keychest Progress, Toy Story Getting CARS Treatment

Another day, another series of domain names being registered by Disney.

The domain name that stands out the most is BILLIONDOLLARFRESHMAN.COM which sounds like it could be an upcoming film either for Walt Disney Studios, DreamWorks or Disney Channel. Replace the B with an M and you have what sounds like could have been a Kurt Russell live action comedy from Disney in the 70s.

For its Keychest technology, Disney has also registered KEYCHESTLAB.COM and KEYCHESTLABS.COM. It is speculated that Disney will be licensing the technology, so this will probably be an opportunity to showcase or sell the technology moreso than a consumer destination.

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Disney Lets Wild Duck Roam Free Amongst University of Oregon Footballers

As we reported last November, the UO Duck (then potentially in some hot water) was operating under license by The Walt Disney Company for his one-time likeness to Donald Duck (and initially enacted by Walt Disney himself). As the UO Duck’s look has changed over the years, it’s fair to say that short of being pantless (which has been enough for Disney alone, just ask Marvel’s Howard the Duck), there is little resemblance to Mickey’s #2.

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Disney Granted US Patent to Help ESPN Keep a Few Electronic Eyes on Athletes

Using a potential combination of RFID and/or ultra-wide band (UWB) technologies, US Patent #,7671,802 provides a method for tracking the on-field locations of athletes and sports equipment (including fast-moving and rapid direction-changing items such as hockey pucks) in real-time.

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ABC News to Ask Hundreds to Resign; May Cut Workforce by About 20%

Weak advertising is forcing ABC News to restructure, as per a report by the LA Times, resulting in a workforce reduction of 20%, or approximately three hundred employees.

The process is expected to begin tomorrow morning in which ABC News will seek volunteers to accept a buyout and leave the organization followed by likely layoffs if not enough volunteer. ABC News employs 1,4000 staffers in all.

Update #1: AOL’s Daily Finance has reprinted today’s memo from ABC President David Westin which you can view here.

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Patent Application for Disney’s ‘Keychest’ Technology Made Public

The US Patent Office has recently published a patent application by Disney Enterprises which appears to be the groundwork for Disney’s announced digital rights management (DRM) technology dubbed ‘Keychest.’

The technology is intended to allow an individual to purchase the right to a movie or a song or book or any other type of protected content and be able to play that same content on any number of multimedia devices with just the single purchase. For example, songs purchased through iTunes are limited not just to iPod/iPhone/iTunes devices, but specific ones. With ‘Keychest’ technology, that song might also be able to be played on a PC using any copy of iTunes (or even another application), on any other mobile device, etc. The same would apply for movies. For example, purchase the latest Disney film on DVD and immediately be able to stream it on your friend’s computer or play it on your cell phone, all at no additional cost.

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Disney to Assume Control of All Disney Store Locations in Japan

It was announced yesterday by The Walt Disney Company Japan that Disney Japan will acquire Retail Networks Co., the company that owns and operates the country’s Disney Store retail locations, from parent company Oriental Land. Talks of the acquisition began last year and the transition is expected to be finalized as of April 1, 2010, the eighth anniversary of RNC. RNC owns and operates 54 Disney Store locations throughout the country, although it’s expected to close six of them by March.

Financial details for the transaction have not yet been announced. Oriental Land is the parent company for the Disney Parks in Japan.

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Disney: Miramax Still Alive and Kicking… Sorta

The Associated Press is reporting that The Walt Disney Company affirms that the Miramax label will continue to exist and the films reported as being shelved will be distributed throughout theaters through 2011.

Disney says the most recent move was in line with the long term plans involving Miramax which include reducing the number of films produced per year to a maximum of three.

The article attributes an email sent from a [former?] Miramax employee, directing recipients to a specific Disney employee as the source of confusion.

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Disney Shuts Down Miramax; Shelves Films Not Yet Released

The Wrap reported yesterday that Disney has officially decided to shut down Miramax Films after a recent period of slowly shrinking the production and distribution company, most recently ousting its president Daniel Battsek and closing the New York offices. Founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the pioneering film company was named in honor of the Weinsteins’ parents (Miriam and Max) and was acquired by Disney in 1993. After a strained relationship with The Walt Disney Company, the Weinsteins left Miramax in 2005 and began another new film company on their own.

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Nikki Reed Named Vice President of Original Series Development for Disney Channel

Nikki Reed has been named Vice President, Original Series, overseeing live-action development for Disney Channel and Disney XD, it was announced today by Adam Bonnett, Senior Vice President, Original Programming, Disney Channel, to whom she will report.

Reed, who has more than 13 years’ experience overseeing feature films and television series development, will be responsible for developing new live-action series geared towards kids, tweens and families on Disney Channel, Disney XD, as well as numerous platforms around the world.

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