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US: Top court backs Marvel in Spider-Man toy dispute

 |  June 23, 2015

Invoking a famous line from Spider-Man lore about great power coming with great responsibility, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in favor of Marvel Entertainment LLC in a patent dispute over a toy that allows users, like the superhero, to shoot webs from the palms of their hands.

Justice Elena Kagan cited the line in explaining why the court, in a 6-3 ruling, declined to overrule a 51-year-old legal precedent concerning patent royalties, rejecting a bid for continued payments sought by the toy’s inventor.

The court backed Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Entertainment in its legal fight with Stephen Kimble and an associate, Robert Grabb, over royalties on the web-shooting toy called the Spider-Man Web Blaster.

“Marvel is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, which upholds the court’s legal precedent from half a century ago,” company spokesman David Jefferson said.

Although the court can overturn its own precedents, this case did not warrant it, Kagan said.

“What we can decide, we can undecide,” Kagan wrote, but, she added, “we should exercise that authority sparingly.”

Kimble had asked the court to overrule the precedent, which said royalty payments generally do not need to be made after a patent has expired as is the case with the Spider-Man Web Blaster. Marvel, which has paid Kimble more than $6 million over the years to use the patent in the toy, had argued that the precedent set in a 1964 Supreme Court ruling should stand.

Full content: The Huffington Post

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