Gary Friedrich sued Marvel over rights to Ghost Rider. Gary lost. Marvel sued Gary for unauthorized exploitation of their trademarked Ghost Rider property. Gary lost. He is obliged to pay Marvel $17,000.
The web is a-Blaze with controversy about the above. Lots of people, including many notable comic book creators, have weighed in with their thoughts and theories.
Most of them have a flawed understanding of intellectual property law, work-made-for-hire and the circumstances of Gary’s services to Marvel way back in the 1970’s.There has been discussion, for instance, about whether or not the W4H acknowledgement on the backs of the checks Gary received for his services back then specified certain rights, or whether or not Gary crossed out certain parts, and what those things might mean.