IP Goes Pop! Season 3, Episode 6: Character Crossovers-Mixing Up The IP Universe

Volpe Koenig intellectual property attorneys and IP Goes Pop! co-hosts, Michael Snyder and Joseph Gushue team up once again, traveling to where worlds collide, taking us into the complex legal negotiations that bring together beloved pop-culture characters from different franchises or “universes”. Such crossovers can mix movie or TV characters or stories to the delight of fans. But can super heroes like Batman and Spider-Man crossover to team up and fight crime together? And who will they fight?

The amount of effort that goes into creating and protecting iconic movie, television, or comic book characters in alternate or rival universes is staggering.  In this episode of IP Goes Pop! you might be surprised to learn what it takes to see your favorite characters “crossover” into other worlds.

Intellectual property (IP) rights play a pivotal role in determining whether a crossover event can happen. Whether characters owned by different entities are allowed to appear on screen together, and how that is accomplished, is quite complicated. Character crossover appearances are the result of carefully negotiated agreements. The copyright laws and licensing rights governing these types of IP agreements cover a wide range of business issues. They can involve numerous different actors, companies, writers, directors, and others who have to work together in order for a crossover to take place.

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are aware that Spider-Man went from being a solo hero in stand-alone movies to being part of the Avengers group. While it was fun to see him join the team in Captain America: Civil War, many wonder why it took so long. The steps involved required more than a new storyline from the writers’ room, or the green light from a production house. It required hours of licensing negotiations and ultimately IP contracts.

IP rights relating to imaginary characters are valuable and closely guarded. These rights are why some comic book characters born long ago have only just gotten spotlights in their own movies.

This episode covers the basics of what is involved in licensing intellectual property rights and character rights from one medium, studio, or universe into another. Michael and Joe cover the intellectual property rights involved in pop-culture crossovers that allow fans to see their beloved characters, from different worlds, interact.


3:44 Famous Television Crossovers

8:11 Famous Comic Book Crossovers

14:43 What are the Legal Rights and Licensing Terms of Comic Crossovers?

25:42 The Legal Minefield of Who Framed Roger Rabbit

30:44 Ready Player One (2018), The Lego Movie (2014), Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

32:58 Patten Oswald Parks and Rec Crossover Prediction Filibuster Scene

34:51 Michael and Joe’s Dream Crossovers




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