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Jun 06, 2005

Comments

1.

The really claim to own the phrase "superhero"? Has anybody got a link to a document where they do that?

2.

Dirk> The really claim to own the phrase "superhero"? Has anybody got a link to a document where they do that?

Yes, they really do, here is the US Trademark form:

Word Mark SUPER HEROES
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: 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
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73222079
Filing Date July 3, 1979
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition June 9, 1981
Registration Number 1179067
Registration Date November 24, 1981
Owner (REGISTRANT) Cadence Industries Corporation a.k.a. Marvel Comics Group and DC Comics Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 575 Madison Ave. New York NEW YORK 10022
(LAST LISTED OWNER) DC COMICS PARTNERSHIP BY ASSIGNMENT NEW YORK 1700 BROADWAY NEW YORK NEW YORK 10019

(LAST LISTED OWNER) MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. CORPORATION BY ASSIGNMENT DELAWARE 10474 SANTA MONICA BOULEVARD SUITE 206 LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA 90025

Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record JONATHAN D. REICHMAN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20020819.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20020819
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

3.

I've heard that Marvel and DC have some sort of joint trademark on the term "superhero", but I've never seen any proof of it. I'm not sure I buy it.

4.

Wow. I stand corrected.

5.

Theo, I think we pressed post at about the same moment.

The form does not mention web, but I assume it's covered under publications, as is computer game I guess.

6.

I respect Marvel's right to defend its intellectual property, and even understand the necessity of their suit against City of Heroes. It's a losing battle, but I know they can't allow random people to represent their characters any way they please without at least raising an objection. Still, they come across as paranoid and greedy, trying to ensure their place in the market by stifling the competition. The idea of trademarking the term "superhero" is ridiculous.

7.

I think I will go trademark the term "powergamer" since "superhero" is taken. Now that I think about, might be worth it to get "3L33T" and "griefer" before someone playing Everquest 2 beats me too it.

/end sarcsim

8.

Makes me feel stupid... I used to fight with my mum, who thought that Marvel comics were evil ink-carnate. Now it turns out she had a point...

9.

Galrahn wrote:

I think I will go trademark the term "powergamer" since "superhero" is taken. Now that I think about, might be worth it to get "3L33T" and "griefer" before someone playing Everquest 2 beats me too it.

/end sarcsim

You can have "powergamer" and i'll take "pow3rgam3r".

/end further sarcasm

The incredibly shrinking public domain. I can't wait for the day i have to pay royalties for using the restroom.

~don

10.

Don McGlumphy III > You can have "powergamer" and i'll take "pow3rgam3r".

Go for it, they are available!

But terms that are trademarked include:

Gamer
Gamers
Gamer Help
Anonymous Gamer
A-Gamers
Gamer’s Guild
Womengamers
Be a gamer
Expert Gamer
By Gamers. For Gamers


u 2 can have US Trademark fun: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk>http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk

11.

Don McGlumphy III > I can't wait for the day i have to pay royalties for using the restroom.

Come to London, they are 20p in Victoria station.

12.

Ren>Come to London, they are 20p in Victoria station.

How much are the toilets in nearby Buckingham Palace mews? Why pay royalties when you can pay royalty?

Richard

13.

Some thoughts on the topic can be found here.

The thought that leapt to my mind when I first became aware of this was genericide, but I haven't done any research into the case law on it. Since they registered back in the early 80's, I would bet there might be a case or two on point.

14.

Via /.

http://www.ahcca.unimelb.edu.au/Superheroes/about.html>Holy Men in Tights a Super Heroes Conference

Is actually what this Uni of Melbourne conference this June seems to be called. It looks a lot of fun especially as they have a fancy dress ball.

Scanning the page I picked up on:
- The words Super Heroes
- The image taken from the recent Spiderman movie
- The fact that its ‘men’ in tights, so they are not discussing any female superheroes then.

If it was not so darn far away I’d be there in a single bound - especially given that there is a http://www.slayage.tv/>Buffy session :)

15.

Hmm... not dispositive by any means, but it is interesting that there seem to be a few court opinions that speak of superheroes as a generic category. E.g, in a lawsuit over that old TV show, "The Greatest American Hero," Judge Motley states: "The Court of Appeals has already noted the vast differences between the costumes, as well as the common use of tight-fitting acrobatic costumes in the superhero genre." Warner Bros., Inc. v. American Broadcasting Cos., 530 F. Supp. 1187 (SDNY 1982). Fwiw, the words "genre" and "generic" share the same Indo-European root.

16.

Actually Marvel and DC co-own the term "Super Heroes". "Superhero" is indeed the generic term. Unless I'm mistaken it comes from DC using "Legion of Super Heroes" and Marvel using "Marvel Super Heroes." I don't know how they decided to get along on this one unless it was "Well, we can use it, let's just not let anybody else."

Found a spiffy link on brand genericide that I thought I'd share, though. They have an excellent list on names that have become generic.
http://www.biologydaily.com/biology/Genericized_trademark

17.

You're right, Jeffool -- and there are situations where a space or a plural can be an important distinction in trademark law. E.g. the distinction between "movie buff" and "moviebuff" was considered rather important in this case. And it might be worth noting that you can find "superhero" here, but not "super hero"

But, in terms of public use of the word. Take a look at Google searches for super hero and super heroes. Seems that many people don't know or care about the "super hero"/"superhero" distinction...

18.

People don't have to care with regards of public use of the word. Trademark's are for usage of the mark with regards to branding.

The public can use the phrase as much as they like as long as they aren't trying to use it in trade. IE: Marvel or DC could sue if you made and marketed a game called Super Heros. They probably could also sue if you made the game SuperHeros, since it would be "confusingly similar" to their trademark.

I think that was made pretty since most of the trademark claims by Marvel got dismissed out of hand.

I haven't heard much since the motion to dismiss, but it seems like Marvel was on pretty shaky footing having manufactured some of the "infringing" characters themselves.

19.

Thabor> People don't have to care with regards of public use of the word. Trademark's are for usage of the mark with regards to branding.

However, the application of the word in everyday language DOES affect the value of the Trademarked item. Genericide is a very real concern. Aspirin, cellophane, corn flakes, escalator, granola, jungle gym, kerosene, linoleum, raisin bran, shredded wheat, thermos, touch-tone, trampoline, yo-yo, and zipper were all Trademarked brand names that lost their value when they became "generic use."

Some trademarked "brand names" that are at pertty at-risk of becoming a victim of genericide: AstroTurf, Band-Aid, Beer Nuts, Breathalyzer, Brillo Pads, Dumpster, Frisbee, Hi-Liter, Hula-Hoop, Jacuzzi, Jeep, Jell-O, Jockey Shorts, Kitty Litter, Kleenex, Laundromat, Liquid Paper, Magic Marker, Muzak, Novocain, Ping-Pong, Play-Doh, Popsicle, Post-it Note, Q-Tip, Realtor, Rollerblade, Scotch Tape, Scrabble, Seeing Eye (dog), Sheetrock, Slim Jim, Styrofoam, Teflon, TelePrompTer, Vaseline, Velcro, and Walkman.

If the trademark holder doesn't do an active job in preventing the "generification" they could lose that property. When speculation came that Jell-o was at risk, the jingle became "jell-o brand gelatin" specifically to combat this.

20.

I'd add coke, and kool-aid to the list.. I'd say half or more of those are already generic.

I'm sure the marketing guru's dislike it, however most of these are victims of their own success.

Many of them also chose marks too descriptive of what they do, and that will easily be confused with natural language to begin with. Beer nuts, dumpster, laundry mat, sheet rock, seeing eye dog, post-it-note, teleprompter.

When advertising was primarily simply printed text wordmarks made more sense. Now complete logo's and images are very easy to reproduce. Trying to protect something as indistict (generic) as simple word phrases is probably not a good model now. Mostly its only good now for preventing confusion in radio advertisiment.

21.

Thabor> Many of them also chose marks too descriptive of what they do, and that will easily be confused with natural language to begin with.

What's so natural about language?

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