At first glance you may read this headline and think the Kirby estate is suing Marvel for the rights to the characters Kirby co-created, read again. MARVEL is suing Kirby's kids, not the other way around. This recent turn of events is in stark contrast to the Superman copyright, where the family of co-creator Jerry Siegel sued DC Comics and won entitlement to claim a share of the Superman copyright (click link below for the NY Times story on that case).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/business/media/29comics.html

    No, in this case it is the comic book company (Marvel) suing the children of the creator for "exercising their rights under the Copyright Act to recapture their father's copyrights." The Kirby estate is attempting to receive a percentage of the profits Marvel earns on the material published that is based on Kirby's characters, not take the characters ownership away from the company (thank goodness). Marvel has decided to take the pro-active approach, possibly in part due to the Superman/Siegel debacle, and actually sue the family. It's an interesting turn of events.

Check out the news article here.