Not satisfied with simply bullying their own employees and the comics media into doing what management wants and writing fluff positive PR pieces for them, Marvel and DC are now attempting to protect their claim of their joint-trademark of the terms “superhero” and “superheroes”.
No, this is not a joke. Here at Unleash The Fanboy, we have a slight tendency toscrew with bend the truth, but today we bring you this startling report of corporate bullying.
Graham Jules, a British author, is accusing DC Comics and Marvel of “banning the use of the word superhero” after the comics corporate giants notified him of their opposition to his attempt to trademark the title of his advice book “Business Zero to Superhero”.
Not taking that kind of corporate bullying standing up, Jules went on BBC Radio and said:
“I was very shocked. I’m a new author and small business, and I’m now in the position of fighting or scrapping the entire book.”
Since 1979, Marvel and DC have claimed joint ownership of the trademarks for “super hero” and “super heroes” which can cover a wide range of products including pencils, playing cards, glue and other forms of stationary that Marvel and DC probably have no place in regulating, anyway.
As there was no internet in 1979 (according to our exclusive UTF sources), Marvel and DC managed to pull this kind of move without the PR headache of people raging on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all manners of social media, including Tumblr.
However when Marvel and DC renewed the trademark in 2006, it drew widespread attention, as well as scrutiny from people who believe that such a term should not be allowed to be registered.
CBR also wants you to know that the different between copyrights and trademarks is that trademarks have to be defended in order to avoid the term becoming generic and thereby losing the trademark.
In 2004 small-press publisher GeekPunk were forced to change the name of its series from “Super Hero Happy Hour” to “Hero Happy Hour”, because apparently in Marvel and DC’s eyes, it’s a huge difference.
Marvel and DC’s corporate bullying doesn’t stop at Garaham Jules or GeekPunk. They have also blocked diet-supplement company Bio-Synergy from renewing their trademark of the slogan “Fuel the super-hero inside.”
This led to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office to revoke Bio-Synergy’s registration, ordering the company to pay Marvel and DC the equivalent of $1,672 in order to “help cover the costs of opposing the application”.
Bio-Synergy founder, Daniel Herman told The Mail newspaper, “I think it’s bang out of order. But now I think I should have used an expert to argue my claim rather than try to do it myself.”
The list goes on, in fact, as even the registration of “Super Hero” for a line of suntan lotions, sun block and beauty creams couldn’t escape Marvel and DC’s corporate bullying. In 2009, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided to sustain Marvel and DC’s opposition to the registration.
What do you think of this issue? Is it really corporate bullying? Are Marvel and DC in the right? Or should they accept that the term “super hero” has become too common place to justify a trademark?