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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 

DC and Marvel want trademark on "superhero" to extend overseas

The big two have already declared a ridiculous monopoly on the word "superhero" back in the USA, but now, they're going so far to take this trivial greed of theirs across the globe, suing a British company for making use of it:
Comic book giants Marvel and DC have been accused of threatening small firms over using the word ‘superhero’ in their marketing because they have registered it as a joint trademark

The two groups, usually fierce rivals, have swung into action against British entrepreneur Graham Jules, who has written a book called Business Zero To Superhero about setting up a small firm. His attempt to register a trademark to the title for use on a website is being contested by Marvel, home of Spider-Man, and DC, which has Batman and Superman.

[...] Daniel Herman, founder of British diet supplements firm Bio-Synergy, has also fallen foul of the giants. He registered the phrase ‘Fuel the super-hero inside’ in 2005 and escaped the X-ray eyes of Marvel and DC. But his attempt to renew it was rejected two weeks ago by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office.
What do they expect to accomplish by monopolizing the use of the word? And why is the UK government's trade departments going along with this? This is just what's making people lose respect for the genre along with the medium, since the big two are going out of their way to clamp down on other businesses' right to use a simple word, and they're making mountains out of molehills. Superheroes aren't the sole dominion of the big two and instead of showing their appreciation for people who want to create their own properties, they're hurting that right by trying to make it illegal to use the word to describe their creations. If they keep this up, it's bound to precipitate their loss of audience.

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I don't see how DC and/or Marvel could acquire a trademark on "superhero" (or "super-hero"). The term is older than both companies. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it goes back at least as far as 1917, when it was used in the book "Contact."

By the time DC and Marvel trademarked the term in 1979, it had already been used by other publishers. Archie Comics used it at least as early as 1966 (they published an annual called "Super Heroes vs. Super Villains" that year). Bantam Books published paperback editions of some of Ian Fleming's novels in 1971, and the blurb on the back covers referred to James Bond as a "super hero." IIRC, an ad for the kung fu movie "Return of the Dragon" also referred to Bruce Lee's character as a superhero.

IMHO, DC and Marvel are exploiting and abusing trademark law to unfairly stifle competition.

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