Monday, March 20, 2006

Marvel & DC's Super-Hero "Claim"

As BoingBoing notes (also here, with earlier info here), Marvel Comics is again flexing its muscles and asserting that it co-owns (with DC Comics) a trademark on the term "super heroes" - this time in the publicity for its "Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition."

Marvel and DC have been claiming and attempting to enforce this "trademark" for many years. According to this link (one of several) from the US Patent and Trademark Office's "Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system," Marvel & DC claim a "First Use in Commerce Date" of October 1966. Most knowledgeable folks aggree that this claim is bogus on many levels, but that hasn't stopped the USPTO from allowing the publishers to register the claim successfully and repeatedly over the past few decades. Digging around the archives via TESS reveals that all TM claims aren't automatically registered - some are denied. But from what I can tell, they've never denied Marvel & DC's claim.

Apparently, just because the USPTO allows you to register a trademark doesn't actually mean that they're endorsing your claim's validity - they're just aggreeing that, well, you've made the claim (tax dollars at "work," folks!). I suppose if someone with deep enough pockets and stamina to spare were to take Marvel & DC to court over this, the claim's bogus nature would be revealed and overcome. But until then, these two "super-gorillas" continue to throw their imagined weight around.

Thanks to several folks at the Comics Scholars Discussion List for helping me figure out what I think is going on in this situation. Caveat lector: I ain't no lawyer!

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Blogger C. Margery Kempe said...

I'm waiting for Bill Gates to put out the Windows Super Hero edition and sue the pants (or tights) off those buggers!

3/22/2006 6:05 PM  
Blogger Bobby Kuechenmeister said...

Gene, I posted a part of this posting on Discourse Chronicle. Why the name change?

4/01/2006 9:00 PM  
Blogger Gene Kannenberg, Jr. said...

Bobby, thanks for the publicity! I'm sorry that the unannounced namechange makes those links inactive, though.

Why the change? I could say "It's all about branding," and indeed, that's part of it; I wanted to draw a closer connection between this blog and the reason for its existence, Also, the new name's a lot easier to remember. And what the heck is a "blog-machine," anyway?

4/02/2006 11:07 AM  

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