Reposted from DLA Piper’s Media Intelligence Bulletin

Editorial Team: Nick FitzpatrickDuncan Calow and Patrick Mitchell

A federal judge has ruled against the creator of Ghost Rider in a battle for ownership rights of the character, ruling that he gave up all such rights to his employer, Marvel Entertainment LLC (‘Marvel’).

Gary Friedrich originally filed the lawsuit in 2007, when the film “Ghost Rider” was released, claiming to have created the character Johnny Blaze and his alter ego Ghost Rider in 1968 and seeking to assert his rights and receive compensation for the use of the character in the movie and various promotional products.

Notwithstanding her view that the character was conceived by Friedrich, on 28 December 2011 the U.S. District Judge, Judge Katherine Forrest, rejected Friedrich’s claim, ruling that he had given up all ownership rights when he cashed cheques which were subject to the condition that he relinquished all of his rights to the predecessor companies of Marvel. Friedrich had also signed an agreement in 1978 giving up his rights in return for freelance work.

Judge Forrest’s finding that “the law is clear that when an individual endorses a check subject to a condition, he accepts that condition” meant there was no need to determine issues such as whether Marvel had hired Friedrich specifically to create the character (which would have resulted in the rights automatically belonging to Marvel).