Reuters reports that Silver Age comics writer Gary Friedrich has sued Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures and several other companies, claiming an unauthorized “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize” his copyright to the Ghost Rider character.
Friedrich was co-creator and initial writer of the character.
The lawsuit, filed April 4 in federal court in Illinois, claims 21 violations based on the production and marketing of the Ghost Rider movie. According to legal documents, Friedrich alleges the copyrights reverted from Marvel to him in 2001:
Friedrich created the character of Johnny Blaze and his alter ego Ghost Rider in 1968. Three years later, he agreed to publish the character in comic books through Stan Lee’s Magazine Management, which eventually became Marvel Entertainment.
Under the agreement, Magazine Management became holder of the copyright for the first issue, which explains the origin story of Ghost Rider. Lee’s company also held the copyrights to subsequent Ghost Rider works.
However, Magazine Management allegedly never registered the work with the Copyright Office and, pursuant to federal law, Friedrich regained the copyrights to Ghost Rider in 2001.
Friedrich seeks unspecified damages based on copyright infringement, negligence, waste, misappropriation of characters, unauthorized use of the characters, false advertising, and other claims.
Other defendants include Sony’s Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures, Michael De Luca Prods., Hasbro and Take-Two Interactive.