The writer who created Ghost Rider has lost a legal battle with comic book bosses over the rights to the character.
The fiery, motorcycle-riding superhero first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1972 and was later immortalised on the big screen by Nicolas Cage in the 2007 movie of the same name, with a sequel planned for 2012.
Freelance writer Gary Friedrich, who came up with the character, filed suit against Marvel in the year the film came out (07), alleging bosses had used the Ghost Rider concept for movies, video games and merchandise without his permission.
However, a judge in New York has now ruled against Friedrich, stating Marvel bosses own the rights to the character as they paid the writer for his work at the time, according to Reuters.
Manhattan federal court judge Katherine Forrest declared, "If Friedrich... had any rights to the character or the work at the time he endorsed the (pay) cheques... he relinquished those rights to Marvel."
Friedrich's lawyers have vowed to appeal against the decision.