Gary Friedrich, the creator of GHOST RIDER, has filed suit against Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures Ent., Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures, Michael De Luca Prods., Hasbro Inc. and Take-Two Interactive, alleging an illegal "joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize" his copyrights to the Ghost Rider character.
The 61-page complaint filed in federal court in Illinois on April 4, 2007, claims 21 violations based on the production and marketing of Sony's GHOST RIDER feature. Friedrich states that the film rights and all merchandising associated with the production reverted from Marvel to him in 2001.
In 1968, Friedrich created the character of Johnny Blaze and his alter ego Ghost Rider. In 1971, he signed a deal with Stan Lee's Magazine Management to bring the character to comicbooks. Magazine Management later turned into Marvel Ent. As part of the original deal, Magazine Management gained the copyrights to GHOST RIDER, however Friedrich claims it never registered the work with the Copyright Office, which subsequently gave Friedrich back the rights to the character after 30 years.
The suit goes on to state, "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."
Friedrich seeks unspecified damages in the case.
After opening Feb. 16, 2007, in the U.S., GHOST RIDER the feature has grossed nearly $214.6 million worldwide.