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Gary Friedrich’s Ghost Rider lawsuit against Marvel lives on

by  in Comic News Comment

A lawyer for Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich asserts the writer’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against Marvel will proceed, despite reports in June that the action had been dismissed.

Friedrich sued Marvel, Sony, Hasbro and other companies in April 2007, arguing the copyrights used in the Ghost Rider movie and related products reverted to him in 2001. He sought unspecified damages for copyright infringement, and violations of federal and Illinois state unfair competition laws, negligence, waste, false advertising and endorsement, and several other claims.

His attorney Charles S. Kramer now tells Digital Spy the order of dismissal, issued in late May, relates to the claims made under state law. A reading of the order by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones supports that. She upheld the 2009 recommendation by Magistrate Judge James C. Francis that the state law and Lanham Act claims be dismissed. However, Francis also determined the Copyright Act of 1976 is the relevant federal statute.

“Gary’s case was originally filed asserting claims under both federal and state law,” Kramer tells Digital Spy. “The court’s ruling was only that this is a question of federal law only, under the federal copyright law, and that the case should thus proceed only on the federal law issues. […] The federal copyright claim was always the main part of our case, and this is really more of a procedural ruling than anything else.”

In the 2007 lawsuit, Friedrich claimed he created Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in 1968 and, three years later, agreed to publish the character through Magazine Management, which eventually became Marvel Entertainment. Under the agreement, the publisher held the copyright to the character’s origin story in 1972’s Marvel Spotlight #5, and to subsequent Ghost Rider works.

However, Friedrich alleged the company never registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office and, pursuant to federal law, he regained the copyrights to Ghost Rider in 2001.