On Tuesday, the 2nd Circuit revived a dispute between comics goliath Marvel Entertainment LLC and Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich, saying that there is some question as to who has the rights to the character.

In December 2011, a judge ruled in favor of Marvel, but the 2nd Circuit found that a 1978 agreement is “ambiguous” on whether the parties meant to give renewal rights to the superhero character to Marvel.

Friedrich claims that his design of the modern Ghost Rider, who rides a motorcycle (the original 1950s version rode a horse and was Western-style), was not work-for-hire under federal copyright law. He argues that in 2001, when the original copyright term expired, the rights for Ghost Rider should have reverted to him. But now that the 2nd Circuit has unearthed some doubt in that 1978 agreement, the lawsuit is alive again.

“It is doubtful the parties intended to convey rights in the valuable Ghost Rider copyright without explicitly referencing it,” U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin wrote in the decision. “It is more likely that the agreement only covered ongoing or future work. Hence, there is a genuine dispute regarding the parties’ intent for this form contract to cover Ghost Rider.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.


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