Rights to the flaming-skull motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider belongs to Marvel Comics, a federal judge ruled. The vigilante played by Nicolas Cage in a 2007 movie and its upcoming sequel debuted in 1972 after Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich first conceived him, the judge ruled. In his 2007 lawsuit, Friedrich claimed Marvel had infringed his rights to the character and its use in movies and merchandise. The judge said Friedrich relinquished his rights to Ghost Rider when he endorsed and cashed checks from Marvel. Those checks contained language relinquishing all rights. Friedrich’s lawyer said he would file an appeal. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens February 17.

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