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Spider-man comic cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan

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Posted at 2:15 PM, Jun 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-22 14:22:00-04

Spider-justice is tingling.

The U.S. Supreme Court cited a Spider-Man comic in a decision Monday, saying a toy inventor was not entitled to more royalties after his patent expired.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered the 6-3 majority opinion of Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises Inc., which upheld a lower court’s decision to deny Kimble further royalties.

“Patents endow their holders with certain superpowers, but only for a limited time,” she wrote.

The toy in question is a “web blaster” glove that shoots foam to mimic the superhero’s web-slinging abilities. Marvel previously agreed to pay royalties of 3 percent to Kimble with no end date.

But as the patent neared a 2010 expiration, Marvel cited a 1964 court case that said it didn’t have to pay more royalties. Kimble sued to overturn the 50-year-old decision, which involved farm equipment.

Kagan concluded the ruling by citing “S. Lee and S. Ditko, Amazing Fantasy No. 15: ‘Spider-Man,’ p. 13 (1962).” That's better known as:

“With great power there must also come — great responsibility.”

Kagan is a comic book fan, according to the Supreme Court Review.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.