Marvel, writer agree to settle Ghost Rider copyright suit

Mon Sep 9, 2013 11:18am EDT

By Bernard Vaughan
    NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Marvel Comics has agreed to
settle a lawsuit by a comic book writer who sued the publisher
over the copyright to the flaming-skulled character Ghost Rider.
    The agreement, disclosed in a letter filed Friday in U.S.
District Court in Manhattan, if finalized would resolve
five-years of litigation brought by former Marvel freelancer
Gary Friedrich, who claimed he created the motorcycle-riding
vigilante.
    Ghost Rider, who first appeared in comic books in 1972, has
since gone on to be the central character of two films since
2007 starring Nicolas Cage.
    The settlement follows a decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in New York to revive the lawsuit. A trial
judge had previously dismissed the lawsuit, finding the rights
to the character belonged to Marvel, owned by Walt Disney Co.
 
    In a letter to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest on
Friday, Friedrich's lawyer, Charles Kramer, said that his client
and Marvel "have amicably agreed to resolve all claims between,
among, and against all parties."
    Forrest suspended deadlines in the case while the parties
finalize the settlement. Trial was set to begin December 16. 
    Friedrich began considering legal action against the comic
book company in 2004 when he learned of an impending movie
adaptation.
    He sued Marvel for copyright infringement, claiming that he
owned the character and its use in films as well as toys, video
games and other merchandise. 
    Marvel argued that while Friedrich contributed ideas, the
comic was created through a collaborative process. 
    Kramer, Friedrich's lawyer, and a spokesman for Marvel did
not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
    The case is Gary Friedrich Enterprises, LLC et al v. Marvel
Enterprises, Inc, et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District
of New York, 08-cv-01533.
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