Time Warner claims that the Siegels are entitled to an accounting of the profits made by DC Comics (in the form of the licensing fees it has collected), but are not entitled to an accounting of the profits WBEI made as a licensee. This is because licensees owe no duty of accounting to the non-licensor co-owner of a copyright.
The Siegels (through their lawyer Marc Toberoff), on the other hand, argue that WBEI took over DC Comics position as copyright holder when it bought the licenses. If this is the case, WBEI will be viewed as a co-owner of the Superman copyrights who owes an accounting to the Siegels. The argument does not work under general legal principles but it might apply in one situation: where the subsidiary is serving as “alter ego” of the parent corporation in order to avoid having to share fees with lawful co-owners. This issue will be addressed at the February 3, 2009 trial and the outcome might have interesting effects on the way some entertainment companies do business (with themselves).