G.I. Joe Inventor Sues to Break Hasbro’s Kung-Fu Grip on Toy’s Copyright

Stanley A. Weston says that the rights to the military action figure should revert to him

G.I. Joe is going into battle — a legal battle, anyway.

Toy giant Hasbro is being sued by a man who claims to have created the iconic action figure, and who wants the copyright returned to him.

In a suit filed Tuesday, Stanley A. Weston claimed that in 1963 he created the idea for male action figures “wearing and carrying miniaturized versions of  the uniforms, insignias, emblems and equipment of each of the different branches of the United States armed forces.”

Weston said that he brought the idea to Hasbro — then Hassenfeld Bros., Inc. — vice president of research and development Donald Levine, who worked up prototypes for the figures and told Weston, “You’re going to make a ton of money from this.”

In his complaint, Weston said that he signed a contract in 1964 with the company granting the company the copyright interests in the figures. But Weston claimed that the statutory period on the contract expires in 2020, at which point the copyrights for the figures will revert to Weston, or his heirs or representatives.

The complaint says Hasbro denies that Weston has the right to terminate the agreement, and that the rights should remain with the toymaker.

The big problem is that according to Weston’s lawsuit, neither Weston or Hasbro can locate a copy of the 1964 contract.

Hasbro has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

At any rate, Weston believes that the value of the copyright interests that he’s seeking “exceeds $100 million.”

That will buy a lot of tiny Army fatigues, but in the meantime Weston wants a declaration that the copyright interests should in fact revert to him in 2020. He’s also seeking the cost of the suit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.