April 10, 2007
Branding: Ghost Rider Creator is Flaming Mad
News broke early this morning that Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, is suing Marvel Enterprises, Sony Pictures and “several entities” over their “joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize" the Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider names and concepts.
The picture has already taken in close to a quarter billion dollars worldwide. Friedrich says the Ghost Rider copyright reverted to him in 2001 after Marvel Entertainment failed to register the trademarks with the copyright office after holding them since 1971.
He has chosen this time to make clear his dissatisfaction with Marvel’s use of the Ghost Rider character and brand, alleging that he has not received compensation for various endeavors such as games, toys and novels.
This news comes just as Sony announces the forthcoming June 12th release of a new Ghost Rider Blu-ray DVD with an impressive array of extra features.
Friedrich accuses Marvel of copyright infringement and also accuses the company of “waste” for failing "to properly utilize and capitalize” on the Ghost Rider name and its related copyrights, which he feels damages the value of his work. He also thinks that Hasbro and video game maker Take-Two Interactive improperly created merchandise for the characters.
Apparently Friedrich is not thrilled with what these companies are offering and feels Marvel took “inadequate” royalties from them.
It’s an interesting legal battle because it seems as if Friedrich waited too long to give notice that his rights were being infringed (it's been known the Ghost Rider was on the way for months now). What seems to shine through is that his real problem is that he, along with many critics, doesn’t like the movie or its related products, and thus feels, somehow, that the Ghost Rider brand name is being lessened.
The proof is in the pudding, however: the Ghost Rider movie seems to be a genuine success and Sony’s handling of the brand, therefore, seems to be in order. Friedrich’s claim of “tortuous interference with prospective business expectancy” seems to be pretty wild.
But whether Marvel has infringed on his copyrights, well, that’s a whole different story. According to Wikipedia, Friedrich claimed in 2001 that he would sue Marvel if they made a movie out of Ghost Rider, and now he’s following through, and it is indeed worthy to note that Marvel only sporadically offered Ghost Rider comics since 2001.
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