Tucson attorney Stephen Kimble outside the Supreme Court, which considered his legal battle with Marvel Entertainment over royalties to a toy he patented.
Who has not dreamed of being a spider person? Spider-Man, specifically.
If you have, then your dream may have included depressing your middle finger into your palm, and so projecting web material onto your nemesis.
Stephen Kimble sculpture award in May 2006 Arizona Attorney
Sound familiar? Then you may want to thank attorney Stephen Kimble.
On Wednesday, the UA Law School features Kimble, an alum, as it kicks off its series called “Contemporary Developments in Law.” Kimble is also a previous winner in the Arizona Attorney Creative Arts Competition.
Here’s why Kimble’s the first speaker:
“Mr. Kimble, a lawyer and artist, is the inventor of the toy that Marvel Entertainment, through Hasbro, marketed as the ‘Web Blaster.’ The toy ‘makes it possible for a player to act like a spider person by shooting webs from the palm of his or her hand.’”
Stephen Kimble Web-Blaster patent
The Web Blaster sounds pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to sway the U.S. Supreme Court, where Kimble was a petitioner in Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015).
“In Kimble, the Supreme Court declined an invitation to overturn a 1964 precedent, known as the Brulotte rule. Under the Brulotte rule, a patent royalty agreement cannot extend beyond the expiration date of the patent. The rule has significant implications in many industries, though its legal and economic premises were abandoned long ago. The Court decided to use Kimble as an opportunity to clarify its stare decisis jurisprudence. It held that a ‘superspecial justification’ may be needed to overrule statutory stare decisis and that wrong precedent does not offer such a justification.”
In other words, he did not prevail. You can read more about his case here and here.
For those who want more detail, here’s more case description:
“Marvel Entertainment used Kimble’s idea and successfully marketed it, through Hasbro, as the ‘Web Blaster’ (still available in stores). Mr. Kimble fought in courts against Marvel and won. Marvel was required to pay Kimble royalties: 3% on its sales of the Web Blaster.
“Under a 1964 precedent, known as the Brulotte rule, a patent royalty agreement cannot extend beyond the expiration date of the patent. Kimble and Marvel were unaware of the rule when they settled their original dispute. Later, Marvel sought to stop paying royalties using the Brulotte rule. Kimble challenged the rule. In Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, the Supreme Court chose not to overturn the Brulotte rule. Instead, it issued an opinion about its commitment to statutory stare decisis.”
This pilot event is co-organized by the Arizona Law Review and with the Business Law Program, and will focus on Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 135 S. Ct. 2401 (2015). The petitioner, Stephen Kimble (UA Law ’83), will describe the events that led to the case and its implications.
- What: Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment: A Conversation With Stephen Kimble
- When: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 12:00-1:15 p.m.
- Where: The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law at the Faculty Lounge. Lunch will be served.
RSVP to Nstanley@email.arizona.edu.
Meantime, you can still buy a Web-Blaster today. Not that it’ll do Stephen Kimble much good.