Marvel Can Press Counterclaims Against Creator of 'Ghost Rider'

     MANHATTAN (CN) - Comic book writer Gary Friedrich will have to defend counterclaims from Marvel alleging that he violated their trademark by using the phrase and picture of "Ghost Rider" on a poster, a federal judge ruled.
     Friedrich and his company filed suit in 2007, claiming there is no dispute that he conceived and authored the Faustian storyline of "Ghost Rider," in which motorcycle stunt-rider Johnny Blaze promises his soul to the devil in exchange for the life of his adoptive father, who is dying of cancer.
     Blaze ultimately keeps his soul but acquires demonic powers that transform him into a fiery skeleton at nightfall. Readers follow Blaze as he tries to resist his dark impulses to use his powers for good.
     After a Manhattan federal judge dismissed every claim, except one alleging copyright infringement, Friedrich filed a 64-page amended complaint .
     The scribe says Marvel Enterprises and dozens of other companies improperly used his storyline for an unauthorized film adaptation. "Ghost Rider," a 2007 film starring Nicolas Cage, was a critical disappointment, but still earned $228 million worldwide. A sequel is scheduled for release in February 2012.
     Marvel Entertainment and several subsidiaries brought three counterclaims in December 2010 for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and a violation of the Lanham Act on the basis of false description, false representation and false designation of origin.
     Friedrich tried to toss the charges on Jan. 15, a motion that U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones rejected Tuesday.
     The original lawsuit is currently in discovery, and the defendants have turned over more than 34,000 pages of documents.