NEW YORK (AP) — A lawsuit against comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment by a man who claims he owns the rights to the Ghost Rider character was reinstated on Tuesday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2011 lower-court decision that dismissed the lawsuit brought by Gary Friedrich, who had sued in 2007, claiming he was owed a cut of the box office proceeds from a film version starring Nicolas Cage.
The comic features a motorcycle-riding character with a flaming skull named Johnny Blaze, who agreed to let the devil have his soul in return for his adoptive father being cured of cancer. The cover of its 1972 debut says it was conceived and written by Friedrich.
The lower court found that Friedrich relinquished his rights in a 1979 agreement with Marvel. But the appeals court on Tuesday found that the contract language was open to dispute.
"There are genuine disputes of material fact regarding the parties' intent to assign renewal rights in that agreement, the timeliness of Friedrich's ownership claim, and the authorship of the work," the court said in sending the case back for trial.
An email sent Tuesday to a representative for Marvel Entertainment LLC seeking comment did not immediately get a response.
Friedrich's attorney, Charles Kramer, said, "We're going to aggressively and vigorously pursue the case." He said a court date had been set for later this month to determine when a trial would take place.