In a story published this morning by Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter, it was reported that Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich has filed a lawsuit against Marvel Enterprises, Sony’s Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, production company Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures, De Luca Productions, toymakers Hasbro Inc. and videogame studio Take-Two Interactive over what he claims is an unauthorized “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize” his copyrights to the Ghost Rider character.
Friedrich created the character of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in 1968 and agreed to publish the character in comic books through Stan Lee’s Magazine Entertainment (which later became Marvel Entertainment), the article states. Under the agreement, Stan Lee’s company became the copyright holder for the first issue origin story as well as all subsequent Ghost Rider works. However, according to Friedrich, Lee and his company never registered the Ghost Rider work with the Copyright Office and, pursuant to federal law, Friedrich regained the copyrights to Ghost Rider in 2001. If true, Friedrich’s lawsuit could have significant merit.
Gary Friedrich seeks unspecified damages for claims of copyright infringement, violations of federal and Illinois state unfair competition laws, negligence, waste, tortuous interference with prospective business expectancy, misappropriation of characters, unauthorized use of the characters and false advertising and endorsement.