Monday, March 20, 2006

Super-Heroes and Law

Some issues refuse to die.

Marvel and DC sharing a trademark on the word "Super-Hero" is one of them.

My friend Jo sent me to Marvel Comics: stealing our language. I kind of agree with it, but mostly don't. I especially find the emphasis on Marvel to be weird and unnerving.

Not that it does a lot to post a blog like this, mostly it inspires a lot of responses from willfully ignorant idiots like this fucking tool. I'd sue him myself if there was civil law against inflicting your idiocy on innocent people. Seriously, if you don't understand the difference between a Trademark and a Copyright then you're entirely ill-prepared to enter this debate, regardless of your opinion.

This post clears up some of the obvious mistakes in logic, so if you want to postulate an argument, know what this says first. Super-Heroes® a Trademark of DC and Marvel and the "Superhero" Trademark FAQ cover the legal ground even better.

Mostly, though, the two companies filed this trademark in 1979! The two companies with the most obvious claims against those two, Dell and Archie, made no competing claim at that time. At this point, I'm not sure why it's so compelling to people.

It seems to me that DC and Marvel, in 1979, were too late to jump in with the trademarking. It had been a generic term longer than it had apparently been used commercially. It was used commercially by a number of competing brands. It really serves no special public interest, as trademarks should do. At that time, it would have been incredibly easy for any interested party to keep them from acquiring the trademark.

Now, it'd be an uphill climb. As it is, most of us have no interest in using the word "Super-Hero" as a sales device in any commercial venture at all, so it really doesn't affect us. Should a small publishing company or a collective of publishers or the ACLU want to challenge this trademark, I'll probably be on their side. I think it's a pretty shaky trademark, as best I can assess.

As it stands it doesn't affect me personally at all, so I can't get too riled. And I don't think it "steals from the language" any more than Microsoft holding a trademark for software called "Windows" or whatever other obvious example any of us could throw out does.

Most of all, I don't understand why every two years this comes up on some website as if it were new.

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