Gary Friedrich, The creator of Ghost Rider has sued Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures and several others over what he claims to be an unauthorized “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize” over his comic book creation.
Mr. Friedrich and his company have filed a 61 page compliant April 4th in Federal court in Illinois. He claimed there were 21 violations, based on the production and marketing of the recent Sony picture “Ghost Rider”. Friedrich says the copyrights used in the film, and in related products reverted from Marvel to him in 2001.
The defendants also include Sony’s Columbia Tristar’s Motion Picture Group,producers Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures and Michael De Luca Prods. as well as Hasbro Inc. and Take-Two Interactive
Friedrich has alleged copyright infringement and has accused Marvel for failing “to properly utilize and capitalize” on his Ghost Rider charcther. Marvel attempts to do so, Friedrich claims have damaged the value of his work by failing to promote and protect the charcthers and by accepting inadequate royalties from co-defendants. Friedrich has also claimed that Hasbro, a toy company a videgame firm called Take-Two have impropely created merchandise from his creation.
The character of Johnny Blaze and his alter-ego Ghost Rider was created by Fredrich in 1968. 3 years later he agreed to publish the character in Stan Lee’s Magazine Management, which ended up becoming Marvel.
Under an agreement, Magazine Management become the owners of the copyright for the first issues and any future issues.
The problem was that Magazine Management never registered the work with the Copyright Office and due to federal law Friedrich regained the rights in 2001.
“Nonetheless, without any compensation to and without any agreement, consent or participation of plaintiff … in late 2006 or early 2007, the defendants herein wrongfully embarked upon a high-profile campaign, arrangement, joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize plaintiff’s copyrights, the Johnny Blaze character and persona, the origin story and the related characters and personas created by plaintiff, in various endeavors, including, but not limited to, the use of the same in movie theater presentations and promotions, commercials, action-figure toys, video games, clothing and novels,” the lawsuit states.
The “Ghost Rider” film opened in Theatres on 2-16-07 in the USA and has already earned $214 million worldwide.
Friedrich has seeked unspecified damages for claims of copyright infringement and 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.
A Sony spokesman has said the studio has no comment at the moment and has not been served with a complaint.
Sources-Hollywood Reporter, JK news