I originally talked about the dangers of working with existing protected works as an indie developer. Having the means to afford a legal team isn’t a guarantee of immunity, either.
In the Gamasutra news entry Ghost Rider Creator Files Suit Against Take-Two, Others, it seems that Gary Friedrich is literally suing Marvel, Take-Two, and others for making a bad movie based off his work. While the suit claims he has owned the exclusive rights to Ghost Rider since 2001, meaning that the movie was an infringement of his copyright, he is also accusing the defendants of “waste”.
Imagine if you owned the rights, trademarks and copyrights, regarding a popular character. Then imagine that someone makes a movie about the character, butchering parts of it, and then doing a terrible job of advertising. Now your own rights are worth less than they did before the movie was made because people associate this movie with your work. And you never gave them the rights to make the movie in the first place!
It just goes to show you what a minefield licensed properties can be. This situation reminds me of the SCO/Novell/IBM/Linux debacle.