Warner Bros. came up big a few months ago when the heirs of Joe Shuster attempted to terminate the copyright on Superman and failed, as the court ruled in favor of WB. Now a similar instance has occured concerning Superman’s other co-creator. The family of Jerome Siegel had their termination notice validated by a federal judge in 2008, but THR is reporting that this decision has now been struck down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has decided that a lower court was wrong to deny Warner Bros. subsidiary DC Comics’ contention that it had a deal in 2001 with the estate of Siegel.
What does this mean for Superman? Formally the Siegels were allowed to retain some of the rights to “Superman’s defining characteristics” which included “his costume, Clark Kent and his origin story, as described in the first editions of Action Comics,” but since this ruling has now been reversed, it would appear the character and all his previous incarnations are owned solely by Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
This change now means the estates of both Superman co-creators will not retain the rights to any part of the character and Warner Bros. can do as they please with him. The decision comes at a good time for WB as their new Superman film, Man of Steel, will be released on June 14.