Gary Friedrich Enterprises, LLC. et al v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc. et al: The Judgement

One of the main creator claims against Marvel Comics in recent times was that of Gary Friedrich who was fighting for ownership of his iconic character, Ghost Rider.  The case wrapped up just a few days ago, and sadly Friedrich has lost and Marvel have won.  There's still a few loose ends to be wrapped up, but the following judgement says it all really.  I expect that there's no doubt whatsoever that Marvel appear to be destined to always win such cases, from Steve Gerber through to the Jack Kirby case; it all hinges on the signed statements on the back of the cheques and the one page agreements that Marvel had everyone sign in approx. 1978.  Friedrich put up a good fight and, at times, it seemed that he might actually get over the top as he was able to establish that he had the idea for Ghost Rider before he arrived at Marvel, but alas, some things aren't meant to be.  The second loss, and a strong case such as this, should send a message to to the creators who worked at Marvel in the 1970s and signed the now infamous 1978 agreement, along with the cheques that had the 'work-for-hire' statements on the back that by doing so, they've essentially signed away any rights that they might have otherwise had.  More proof that when you create something for a company, you don't automatically own it, unless you have that in writing, signed, witnessed and as air-tight as it gets.

Friedrich claimed, under oath, that he could have easily given the Ghost Rider concept to Skywald, a company where he created Hell Rider with Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, but didn't.  The irony is two fold - if he had created Ghost Rider for Skywald then he would have surely owned it by now, but it'd not be the same character that it became and, without the clout of Marvel Comics, it'd not have become as popular, nor as financially lucrative, as it is now.  This now leaves Friedrich in the position of having to undergo settlement discussions with Marvel in the next few days, and the coming weeks shall see he and Marvel attempting to resolve any counter-claims that were filed and to complete any discovery, if need be.  Hopefully Marvel will go easy on Friedrich, after all with the impending Ghost Rider sequel about to be released, again starring Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, it's not like they need any money that he might have.

Here's the complete judgement.

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