The long-running legal battle between Miles Millar, Alfred Gough and the company that has the current licensing rights to Superman is over.
The suit — which was seeking more than $100 million in damages — was all over the former The CW series “Smallville,” which actually got its start on one of that network’s forerunners, the WB, which was owned by Warner Bros. Television. In the suit, “Smallville” co-developers Millar and Gough claimed that Warner Bros. created “sweetheart deals” with its own divisions inside its own company that cost them potential income if the company had offered reruns of “Smallville” out into the open market.
It’s a process called “vertical integration,” and it has been the subject of lawsuits for years, especially as media companies become so large, they can essentially sell products to themselves. That might be all fine and good — until you have others who are depending on those sales for profit participation. If a company sells a product to one of its own divisions, there is a belief that it could undercharge the value, thus cutting those in profit participation out of the conversation.
For Millar and Gough, who left “Smallville” in 2008, two years before the lawsuit was filed. They said that Warner Bros. actions cost them more than $100 million, according to their attorneys. The recent settlement amount was not disclosed, but it likely did not reach the figure Millar and Gough were looking for.
“Smallville” had a number of issues surrounding it legally. One of them came from the family of the Superman creator itself. The heirs of Jerry Siegel had reacquired the rights to Superboy, and felt that “Smallville” was an infringement of the Superboy copyright.
“Smallville” left the air in 2011 after 10 seasons. It made stars of people like Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, who played Clark Kent and Lex Luthor respectively.