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Marvel and DC Enforce "Superhero" Trademark 430

Posted by Hemos
from the stupid-legal-moves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "GeekPunk is announcing that their flagship comic book title featuring superheroes patronizing their favorite bar & grill during their off-hours will now be entitled Hero Happy Hour beginning with the fifth issue of the ongoing series. According to creator Dan Taylor, "The decision to change the title was brought upon by the fact that we received a letter from the trademark counsel to 'the two big comic book companies' claiming that they are the joint owners of the trademark 'SUPER HEROES' and variations thereof." " Read the recent boingboing post for more background as well.
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Marvel and DC Enforce "Superhero" Trademark

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  • by Paperghost (942699) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:40AM (#14956955)
    Look, up in the sky, its a shattered childhood.
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Vthornheart (745224)
    Fine then. I'm going to go slap a trademark on men wearing tights, and file an injunction against Marvel and DC for violating my trademark. As an added bonus, I can sue people who are still lost in the 80's or perform theatrical choreography. Hmm...
  • Why play fair when you can cheat ?
  • Ones and Zeroes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:43AM (#14956987)
    Reminds me of the old Onion article "Microsoft to patent zeroes, ones." Isn't the term "Super Hero" pretty generic?
    • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:01AM (#14957145) Homepage
      " Isn't the term "Super Hero" pretty generic"

      Trademark laws exist to protect the consumer, not the producer.

      If you buy a brown fizzy beverage, and if it says "cocacola" you should have some sort of confidence you're buying CocaCola brand of fizzy soft drink.

      Is there some consumer confusion that your "superhero" is not a DC or Marvel brand of superhero? To say nothing of the fact if don't activly protect your mark you lose it.

      Goog sez: "Results 1 - 50 of about 7,330,000 for "superhero""

      If Marvel and DC jointly own the trademark on "superhero" I'd be saying the words "Anti trust". A LOT. And ignoring the C&D letter.

      • by Intron (870560) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:19AM (#14957292)
        Except they didn't coin the term. Earliest cite [jessesword.com] is 1942, Supersnipe Comics.
        • Trademark is not copyright. Trademarks do not have to be coined words.

          Coined words are generally inherently distinctive, and prima facie registerable as trademarks, because they did not exist prior to the creation of the mark. Escalator did not "mean" moving stairs before the Escalator company created and trademarked the term. However, that it not the end of the discussion.

          You can also take preexisting works and use them arbitrarily, like using Apple as a brand for computers. You can use them suggestivel
      • Life moves on. (Score:3, Insightful)

        Trademark laws exist to protect the consumer, not the producer.

        Where you been the last few dozen, 20, 30, 40 years? Trademark laws exist to protect "intellectualy property" so the owner can profit. Way it is, way its been. News? No. Right? No. Life moves on.

    • It's as generic as, say, kleenex, xerox, or coke.

      It was inserted into the public consciousness as a term by these comics writers. They trademarked it in 1967.

      Just because everyone uses it to refer to Superman and Aquaman doesn't mean that "everyone" invented the term.
    • Generic? (Score:4, Informative)

      by eonlabs (921625) on Monday March 20, 2006 @01:20PM (#14958409) Journal
      I think yes, the term is used for a lot of things. Here's what the patent and trademark office shows regarding this:

      SUPERHERO [uspto.gov] is owned by David & Goliath, Inc. for use on clothing
      SUPER HERO [uspto.gov] Oooh, this one's for skin cream
      So it isn't reserved across everything, where is it reserved?

      SUPER HEROES [uspto.gov] FOUND IT!!!
      Goods and services: " PUBLICATIONS, PARTICULARLY COMIC BOOKS AND MAGAZINES AND STORIES IN ILLUSTRATED FORM [(( ; CARDBOARD STAND-UP FIGURES; PLAYING CARDS; PAPER IRON-ON TRANSFER; ERASERS; PENCIL SHARPENERS; PENCILS; GLUE FOR OFFICE AND HOME USE, SUCH AS IS SOLD AS STATIONERY SUPPLY;] NOTEBOOKS AND STAMP ALBUMS )). FIRST USE: 19661000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19661000"
      So, they technically can ONLY press this against comic book writers (and other publishers).
  • by Kombat (93720)
    Before this thread is consumed by non-lawyers editorializing about what a legal travesty this is, let me first put forth a question: If this argument was about the term "Superman" instead of "Superhero," would it be any less absurd? I mean, surely we'll all agree that "Superman" is a clearly trademarkable name, and has been capitalized on by its creators for decades. But isn't the coined word "Superman" just as generic as the coined word "Superhero?" Aren't they both merely the concatenation of two relat
    • by Otter (3800) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:48AM (#14957020) Journal
      But isn't the coined word "Superman" just as generic as the coined word "Superhero?" Aren't they both merely the concatenation of two relatively common words in the English language?

      If anything, "superhero" is more novel. "Superman" comes from Nietzsche, and the subsequent abuse of his terminology by the Nazis.

      • by Supurcell (834022) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:22AM (#14957316)
        Nietzsche coined the term "Übermensch", which translates to "Overman" not "Superman". I'm pretty sure no Nazi every used the english word "Superman" either.
        • by DrSkwid (118965) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:32AM (#14957393) Homepage Journal
          Man and Superman,
          play in four acts by George Bernard Shaw, published in 1903 and performed (without scene 2 of Act III) in 1905; the first complete performance was in 1915. The Superman of the title is derived from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.

          http://www.britannica.com/nobel/micro/733_84.html [britannica.com]

        • Nietzsche coined the term "Übermensch", which translates to "Overman" not "Superman". I'm pretty sure no Nazi every used the english word "Superman" either.

          The literal translation between two languages is not always the most accurate one.

          For example, up here in Seattle, a girl wanted a name for her industrial band. She decided to go for "Sub-Zero" (like the temperature), but in German. She picked "Unter Null," because it literally means "below zero." However, what it *actually* means in German is more
      • These words have become commonly used household terms now. I think the trademarks should no longer apply. Really... if someone wants to make a fan-flic called Superman 10, then why not? It's not like, by the time your product is a household word, you haven't made much money yet.
    • by Vthornheart (745224) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:48AM (#14957021)
      The shady part to me is that Marvel and DC claim co-ownership of it. Not to say that I'll point a stiff finger at them and accuse them of wrongdoing (though in an above post I poke some fun for the sake of humor), but I would like to know how they managed to "co-create" the term. Did they both happen to create it at the same time, or are they merely claiming co-creation as a way of allowing each other to have exclusive rights to an obvious term, at the detriment of smaller comic companies?

      Perhaps someone has some insight into the history of the word "superhero" that might be helpful to this discussion?

    • I have no idea whether it -is- trademarked, but it seems to me that it shouldn't be. After all, Nietze talked about his "superman" long before Clark Kent was Superman. And it's a pretty obvious hybrid of normal words - Super and Man. A man who is super. What's more plain than that?
      • Nietzche Overman(%C3%9Cbermensch in german) is different then your brand name Kryptonian.

        he overman is the individual who can overcome the herd instinct, who can take on values and morals not of the society. This is contrasted with one who wields power over others (although the overman, having overcome himself, will consequently dominate those who have not); the overman is about being "judge and avenger and victim of one's own law" rather than that of others or one's society. As such, the overman creates hi
    • Isn't superman also a biology term for men with an extra Y chromosome (and superwomen for an extra X)? Said people aren't allowed to be in the Olympics because they have a physical advantage over normal XY/XX people. Or are they called supermales/superfemales?
    • Superman is a pretty specific example of "Super Hero".
      Just like a "Smart for two" is a specific example of a "Car".
      Claiming a trademark on Superman, means you can't use Superman as a character, or company without falling foul of Trademark laws (and rightly so).
      Just like you can't sell a car under the name of a "Smart for two" without it actually being that car.
      The problem here is that "Super Hero" doesn't actually make you think of anything other than a highly generic set of characters, many of which don't
    • Over here, you might have a problem copyrighting the name "Superman". What you can do is copyright the combination of person and tag (a superhero named Superman), but the name "Superman" by itself could not be copyrighted, because it is too broad and generic.

      Same for Superhero, btw. You could copyright a certain implementation ("The Superheros of Xexxxalak"), but a "Superhero" by itself is a very generic term.

      Unless of course you can prove that you originally coined the term and the trade mark itself became
    • People already associate the term with super heroes other than Marvel and DC's. They associated the term with characters other than Marvel and DC's before they even filed. They trademarked a commonly used term; therefore, their trademark should not be valid.

      • "They associated the term with characters other than Marvel and DC's before they even filed."

        Well, it was filed several decades ago, so I'm not sure how you can declare this so certainly.

        "They trademarked a commonly used term; therefore, their trademark should not be valid."

        They trademarked a term that decribes a genre that one of them appears to have invented (DC with Superman, save the arguments, it's pretty much accepted and I don't care what you think otherwise) and didn't become common until well after
    • Yes, it is. (Score:3, Informative)

      by dhasenan (758719)
      Superman, used as a proper noun, refers to a guy who wears blue tights and red underwear with a red cape, shoots lasers from his eyes, flies, and is vulnerable to kryptonite.

      Superman, used as a common noun, is a variant of superhuman.

      The former usage is clearly covered by trademark; the latter is clearly not.

      In this case, the term 'superhero' is common enough to be outside trademark, in my opinion. It's a plain compound, and while the decomposition would refer to a superset of the composed meaning, it's pre
      • Re:Yes, it is. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:18AM (#14957287) Homepage
        Anyway, the OED first lists the term being used in 1917 by Greenhill Press, so they would hold the trademark if anyone.
        That's not how trademarks work. It's not like copyright, where it's automatic -- you have to file for a trademark, and if you don't, somebody else can. I think a lot of companies file for trademarks for every little catch phrase and slogan they use or think they'll use, not because they really want to `own' it, but because they don't want anybody else going after them for using it. Seems a big waste, but if that's what the system requires to protect yourself ...

        I still think that the term `super hero' is so generic (or has become so) that any trademarks on it should be invalid, but that's another issue. Trademark law (unlike patent or copyright law) has a provision that a company must protect it's trademarks or they'll lose them, and in this case I'd say the phrase was or is so commonly used that they should lose it, if they even have it.

        I saw `if they even have it' because I did a search on the US Trademark site for a trademark on `super hero' or `superhero' and didn't find any on just those two words that applied to comics. I did find a few for things like `Marvel Super Heros', but nothing just on `super hero' related to comics. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place or something?

    • I mean, surely we'll all agree that "Superman" is a clearly trademarkable name

      No! Its clearly a derived work coming from Nietzsche's concept of "Übermensch" [wikipedia.org] :)

    • Let's just admit that they've created something new, and it's not entirely unreasonable for them to wish to protect their exclusive use of their creations.

      Or, here's a better idea: lets just admit that the system was absurd to begin with, and talk about why that has been allowed to persist?

      Now if you don't mind, I'd like to gaze out my Windows(TM) for awhile and contemplate it.

    • They are the only ones to have used the term "SuperHero" to describe their characters. It IS pretty generic. Sure, Superman and Batman are obvious superheros that they do own the rights to, but unless they own every single character in this file, I call shenanigans:

      http://www.superherodb.com/ [superherodb.com]
  • Something Similar (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trianglecat (318478)
    Yep... these boys dont mess around. I played in a band for several years called "boywonder" and when a band of the same name surfaced, we naturally went after trademark rights. DC Comics were quickly on us requesting that any product with the use of the name be sent to them for examination citing infringement.

    We had released two albums under the name and they were very good about finally allowing us continued use of the name after about 8 months but, unfortunately, we had already changed names given a CD
    • DC Comics were quickly on us requesting that any product with the use of the name be sent to them for examination citing infringement.

      The words "pound" and "sand" figured prominently in the attorney's response I'll guess. Trademarks are limited by market.

    • I played in a band for several years called "boywonder" and when a band of the same name surfaced, we naturally went after trademark rights. DC Comics were quickly on us requesting that any product with the use of the name be sent to them for examination citing infringement.

      Since trademarks are ment to be specific to business types (and geography) you probably had more reason for going after the other band than DC Comics had for going after you. But no doubt they had more money to spend on lawyers, this b
  • Since 1967 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grrr (16449) <[ten.rrrg] [ta] [rrrgc]> on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:45AM (#14956996) Homepage Journal
    http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=7 7m69u.2.87 [uspto.gov]

    Registration Date

    March 14, 1967

    Owner

    (REGISTRANT) BEN COOPER, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 33 34TH ST. BROOKLYN NEW YORK

    (LAST LISTED OWNER) DC COMICS, INC. CORPORATION ASSIGNEE OF NEW YORK 666 FIFTH AVENUE NEW YORK NEW YORK 10103

    (LAST LISTED OWNER) MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, INC. CORPORATION ASSIGNEE OF DELAWARE 387 PARK AVENUE SOUTH NEW YORK NEW YORK 10016


    <grrr />
    • Re:Since 1967 (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Right. These C&D's have been going on from at least the 80s. I love how Cory likes to ignore this fact and assumes this is something new. As far as being 'our word' umm I don't think so. I don't like the ownership of words as its prone to abuse but this is pretty legal to me. The guy who owns the word stealth [nytimes.com] should be getting this attention and criticism. Seriously, if Cory thinks this is an illegal use of trademark and copyright why doesn't he sue Marvel and DC over it? I'm sure whatever money neede
      • Re:Since 1967 (Score:3, Informative)

        Yeah, one wonders where Cory was in the mid eighties when Champions was forced to call itself "the Super Roleplaying Game" instead of "the Superhero Roleplaying Game".

        I've found it rather interesting to look at other games, books, fora, and so forth that are about supers and see just what terms they coin to get around the trademark. For example, City of Heroes talks about heroes, not superheroes.
  • Unenforced? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tiger Smile (78220) <james@dornan.COMMAcom minus punct> on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:45AM (#14957001) Homepage
    Is it my imagination or has this never before been enforced? If this is the first time that it has been enforeced, can their hold on this generic term be great?

        This really does seem as silly as a PB&J parent, but it sure might be legel in the eyes of the current system.

  • Underdog (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:46AM (#14957004) Homepage Journal
    That lawyer is operating a cartel running a "restraint of trade" operation. If I start a "car" company, and the lawyer for GM, Ford, Toyota and Mercedes tried to stop me from "abusing their trademark", I'd be deluged by lawyers slavering for their piece of the antimonopoly action.

    That's the kind of abuse that launched MCI against the AT&T monopoly, opened the telco industry to some competition, and enriched a generation of lawyers. This time, the comic can still do business while complying with the abusive Cease & Desist letter, while getting justice and bucks.
    • Re:Underdog (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgd (2822)
      Um.

      None of those car companies have a trademark on the term "car".

      There is, however, a trademark on the term "superhero".

      So your post, while moderated rather positively, is quite incorrect in drawing some comparison between the two.
  • old story? (Score:2, Informative)

    by fugu (99277)
    Um, is it just me or does the link go to a post from 2004?
    • Well, the link here complains about a mysql error (slashdotted?), but I first heard about this in 2004. However, back then it only included the terms "superhero" and "super hero". According to this [boingboing.net], however, they now are also trying to get a trademark on the the hyphenated term "super-hero" as well. So there is some newness to it.

      Idiots.

  • No such thing as rights to a "variation" on a trademark. Trademarks are extremely specific and limited only to the market in which they are used. If someone wanted to market "Super Hero" tires, they would be absolutely within their rights to not only use the name but trademark it as well.

    This is similiar to the "Copyright Notice" that appears at most Kinko's which states with certainty that it is against the law to duplicate copyrighted material. That is absolutely false, and the people who wrote it kno
    • The interesting thing about the kinko's notice is that it is false one multiple levels.

      The statement is purely there to protect kinko's from the fact that their business model is based on large amounts of people coming in and copying copyrighted material. I imagine a lot of text books are copied at kinko's and then returned.
  • Hmm. Never heard Pixar complain. Did they license, or is this another 'they have less money than us and can't defend' suit?

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • Anyone can have a trademark, but even MS can't trademark 'windows' all by itself, as it is a common word, that refers to more than MS products. In this case, I'd have to say that m-w.com shows superhero and superhuman to be common nouns, and thus should not be a protected trademark. Now, on the other hand, batman, spiderman etc. should be, and 'brand x superheros' also should be protected, but just superhero... that's just wrong
    • Now, on the other hand, batman, spiderman etc. should be, and 'brand x superheros' also should be protected, but just superhero... that's just wrong

      Batman is a normal English word - it's a rank in the British Army. I'm not sure if the rank is still current or not, and I'm not certain if it's only the British Army. But it's definitely not an invented word for superheroes. In fact, I've always suspected the idea for the Batman character came from the silliness of the original batman word.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  • by blcamp (211756) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:51AM (#14957046) Homepage

    And I'll probably get sued for this moment of lamentation...

  • I think that Warren Ellis has the right idea. We should just call them "Underwear Perverts" and be done with it.

    Let Marvel and DC try to copyright that.

  • Look out criminals, a new brand of excellent martyrs are on the horizon, its 'The Awesome Braveguys!'*

    *Awesome Braveguys and the Awesome Braveguys logo registered trademarks of Awesome Braveguys Enterprises, Inc.
    The Awesome Braveguys 'AB' emblem is a trademark of Awesome Braveguys Corporation and are used under license to Awesome Braveguys, Inc.
    All other references in this post to Awesome Braveguys and Awesome Braveguys manufacturers, toys, and photos are for informational purposes only and are not
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:53AM (#14957068)
    The posts linked are dated 01-30-2004.

    WTF? A "news" site generally deals with current events. Or at the very least, mentions the rather relvant fact that this is history, not news. Of course, that would be assuming that the Slashdot editors actually RTFA.

    • And following up;

      "ongoing series."

      Right.

      Visiting geekpunk.cm [geekpunk.com], one finds it was cancelled OVER A YEAR AGO.

      "February 23, 2005 - GeekPunk, the independent comic book publishers of the critically acclaimed and fan favorite superhero comedy comic book Hero Happy Hour, regrets to announce that the title is now on a temporary hiatus for an undetermined amount of time."

      "News"?
  • Well then (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:54AM (#14957073) Homepage Journal
    If they have a valid trademark should use their trademark properly.

    For example, the following use (from Marvel's web site) in it's correct adjectival sense:

    Throughout World War II, Captain America and Bucky fought the Nazi menace both on their own and as members of the superhero team the Invaders, which after the war evolved into the All-Winners Squad.

    You see here, that the use "superhero" adjective could in theory at least be used to differentiate their "team" product from similar products of their competitors. On the other hand, the following is clearly an improper use of their own presumed mark as a noun (and despite the capitalization, a common noun):

    If you've ever wanted to hear your voice come out of a Marvel Superhero's body-or if you are looking for a chance to break into the world of voice acting-then this is your chance!

    This should read:

    If you've ever wanted to hear your voice come out of a Marvel Superhero character's body-or if you are looking for a chance to break into the world of voice acting-then this is your chance!

    Using it as a common noun (which they do throughout their web site, although it is sometimes capitalized) is tantamount to admitting the term is generic.
  • Faster than everybody else! Stronger than the weak! Able to leap to conclusions in a single bound! Sworn enemy of the dreaded RIAA! Destroyer of the Gates of hell! I'd have been a superhero if I weren't deathly afraid of lawsuits.....and girls :p
  • Doesn't Thomas Edison have a trademark on DC? And I think God has a trademark on Marvel.
  • Dear god. Flooded areas of my 7th floor. No tech casualties, but "WTF?!" "Super Heroes" trademarked? I think the fool backed down too quickly. It's way to generic a term that can likely be demonstrated as being such for several decades. Who needs a lawyer to defend this? Just walk into a court room and say "Judge, this is complete bullshit! I move countersue for the revocation of this ridiculous trademark on the grounds that the words are too commonly used."
  • you unleash the lawyers on smaller competition, with the help of state endorsed terrorism as all-encompassing patents (even cursory and half-assed thoughts will cover whole fields now), perpetual and backwards copyrights (didn't Disney come up with all those Brother Grimm stories?), and trademarks on every dictionary entry.

    Who you can't sue, you buy. Who you can't buy, you merge with to create a synergistic whole.

    Eventually we'll be one giant happy family under the one true megacorp who the government will
  • Why not use SuperGyro? Sounds the same if you pronounce it correctly ;)
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:58AM (#14957112) Journal
    for trademark of the word "superhero" and variations thereof back in 1981. Apparently, there is some controvesy over the joint filing of this shared trademark as trademark law has a "single source" requirement. However,
    there is precedent of two companies sharing a trademark, but is supposed to be quite quite rare.

    I am not sure how accurate this information as a lot it is from disparate sources, so someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    Anyway, I don't see how Marvel/DC can claim a trademark on a word that has been in the popular lexicon for over fifty years.
  • I'm anti-copyright and anti-patent as I believe they destroy the desire to invent -- the legal hassles of trying to make sure your creation is unique leaves the power of invention to the distribution cartels.

    I believe the market would provide many ways to profit without the force of government backing up the inventors, and I think trademarks are no different.

    Copyright and patents and trademarks were intended to protect for a very short period of time so the creator and only the creator can make enough profi
    • I disagree.

      I intensely dislike the length of copyright, and I dislike many, many ways in which patents are applied to day.

      Trademarks, however, are valueable in that they provide a unique way to identify a product or service. Without them, it's easy for someone else to trick consumers who want the original product or service.

      I agree that some trademarks are badly abused to attempt to avoid copyright's time restrictions (loose as they are). Disney has trademarked Mickey Mouse in a number of positions such t
  • by szembek (948327) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:04AM (#14957172) Homepage
    I believe 'super hero' would fall under a genericized trademark. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark [wikipedia.org]

    If the mark does not perform this essential function and it is no longer possible to legally enforce rights in relation to the mark, the mark may have become generic. A generic mark forms part of the public domain and can be commercially exploited by anyone.
  • Sorry, but much like Xerox lost the right to their name as a verb, Super Hero is now a part of the English language. They should have been enforcing this for the last 20 years at least. Strangley though I'm at a loss for an example of someone else using Super Hero in a title... lots of descriptions, just can't think of any titles. (edit.. there's a band called SuperHero apparently).

    I CAN think of a lot of other Comic book IP that has been infringed over the years.... to the benefit of Marvel and DC... lots
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:09AM (#14957210)
    I remember the GURPs supers book calling the SuperHeros 'Metahumans' becaues Marvel/DC threatened to sue. It sucked rocks then, and it sucks rocks now. It's ridiculous, a trademark identiifies a business. Marvel's a trade mark, so is DC. I don't know of any company called 'SuperHero'. Shit, why not let them patent it while your at it so the next time someguy flys around in tights they can sue.
  • Worst use of trademark law.... ever
  • Back in the day, we didn't have your fancy-schmancy foryums and blahgs on everyone's webpage. We had ourselves the NEWSGROUPS.

    And we liked it!

    In order to discuss super-hero based RPGs on the rec.games.frp.* hierarchy, our posts would get lost. I decided to act upon this and had rec.games.frp.super-heroes created. There was much (ridiculous) debate ([sarcasm]on the internet? NO...[/sarcasm]) regarding the name.

    We couldn't used "Superheroes" because of the joint trademark. We couldn't use "Sup

  • by slaker (53818) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:32AM (#14957398)
    I met the guys who write and draw "Hero Happy Hour" at comic conventions a couple times. The book is a fun read, and the creators are funny guys. They know they aren't going to make a fortune, they're just making a comic because they want to make a comic. I've never seen any publicity for their comic until now, which is a damned shame. "Hero Happy Hour" is easily the best small press/amateur title I've ever picked up.
    Anyone who is into comics would do well to pick up whatever issues they still have in print, 'cause they're worth the money.

    Anyway, I remember Marvel and DC claiming trademark on Super-Hero in the early 80s if not earlier, and just about everyone who writes about people with super-powers, who doesn't work for Marvel or DC, uses some other term to describe them. I can't believe they're enforcing their trademark on a couple guys whose comics have a print run that's probably 1/100 the size of an average "big name" book, but they've had the right to do so for over 20 years.
  • by yar (170650) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:45AM (#14957507)

    It's still not a good thing, but note that Super Hero Happy Hour received the message in 2004. It's just now being brought to everyone's attention- and as others have pointed out, they've had the trademark for some time. The original BoingBoing post noted that Marvel was using a museum [boingboing.net] to strengthen its trademark argument (the TM note at the bottom of the page).

    Still, between this and the NCSoft suit, I'm not at all happy with Marvel nowadays. This is the kind of thing that could hurt their authors. The Underwear Pervert [blogspot.com] blog (Boing Boing's suggestion to replace super heroes) gives examples of where authors published by these guys have used materials in the public domain, which they should be able to do.

  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Monday March 20, 2006 @12:32PM (#14957976) Homepage
    They must have confused this universe with a parallel dimension where only DC and Marvel make superhero comics. :)
  • by edward.virtually@pob (6854) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:57AM (#14963008)
    Assuming for the sake of argument that D.C. and Marvel did invent the term "superhero", it has obviously lost its exclusivity to these companies in common usage. Much like Zipper and Asprin, which began life as trademarks but became "ordinary" words through usage and were properly ruled to be such. If the legal system still worked, I would suggest other comic publishers ignore D.C./Marvel's attempt to abuse trademark law to surpress competition. But since these days the court could (ignoring the relevent precident) rule in favor of D.C./Marvel . . .

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