Superman is no longer owned solely by Time Warner and their subsidiaries, Warner Bros. Studios and DC Comics. The New York Times reports that a federal judge ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel, who co-created Superman with Joseph Shuster, were entitled to claim a share of the U.S. copyrights for the character, although Time Warner would retain international rights.

Siegel and Shuster originally sold the world-famous superhero to D.C. Comics for a paltry $130. The judge left the question of how much was owed to the Siegel estate for use of the character since 1999, which is when their ownership is deemed to have been restored. This doesn't affect any of the studio's profits from the original Superman movie, but may involve back payments for Superman Returns. If this ruling survives a legal challenge from Time Warner, it leaves the door open for a similar reversion of rights to the Shuster estate in 2013.

This ruling further threatens Warner Bros. plans for future film and television projects featuring the Man of Steel, including Superman: The Man of Steel, the sequel to Superman Returns.