Appeals court rules against Tucson web slinger

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A local inventor caught in a legal web over his Spider-Man toy has been dealt a blow by a federal appeals court.  A ruling released Tuesday says Steve Kimble is no longer entitled to royalties from a web-slinger toy because his patent has expired.

We first told you about Kimble last year.  He created the toy inspired by the comic book hero back in 1990.

Kimble got the idea patented, and then he took it to the heads of Marvel Comics in New York City. They passed, but later Kimble saw his web-blaster in a toy store.  That's when this inventor -- who's also a lawyer -- sued, claiming he was entitled to a share of the profits as patent holder.

Marvel denied knowing Kimble at first, but then Kimble produced the signed rejection letter from the comic company.  The case went to trial.

"They had this life-size cardboard cutout of Spidey behind them," Kimble told KOLD News 13 last year.  "I said he stands for everything right.  He needs to stand behind me."

A jury ruled in Kimble's favor, awarding him past, present and future earnings on similar web-slinger toys.  Marvel continued to fight in court, eventually settling the case at one point before the first Spider-Man movie was released in 2001.  But Kimble and Marvel soon found themselves again at odds with issues related to the patent.

Last year, Kimble's patent expired, and the case went back to court.  A lower court ruled for Marvel, even though Kimble said he was still entitled to money under the settlement agreement.

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