Comic writer's Ghost Rider copyright lawsuit revived on appeal

Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:00pm EDT
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A comic book writer who claims he created the flaming-skulled character called Ghost Rider got another chance to press his claim on Tuesday when a U.S. appeals court revived his lawsuit against Marvel Comics.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2011 district court ruling that found the rights to the character belonged to Marvel Comics, owned by The Walt Disney Co. It returned the case to the lower court for trial.

Former Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich, who claims he created the character, will pursue the case "aggressively and vigorously," his lawyer Charles Kramer said.

Ghost Rider, a motorcycle-riding vigilante whose head is a flaming skull, first appeared as a vigilante superhero in 1972.

In 2004, Friedrich began considering legal action against the comic book company when he learned of an impending movie adaptation. He sued Marvel for copyright infringement and claimed that he owned the character and its use in films, as well as toys, video games and other merchandise.

The movie was released in 2007, starring Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes.

Marvel argued that while Friedrich contributed ideas, the comic was created through a collaborative process.

In 2011, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with the company, finding Friedrich had relinquished his rights to Ghost Rider.   Continued...

U.S. actor Nicolas Cage arrives to promote his movie 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' in Berlin January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz