Marvel and DC Comics back down over ‘superhero’ use

Intellectual property bannerA British businessman has won the right to use the term ‘superhero’ in the title of his book and to register the title as a trade mark.

After writing his self-help entrepreneurs’ manual, Business Zero to Superhero, in 2014, Graham Jules came to the attention of Marvel and DC Comics when he applied to trademark the title. The New York-based firms, which jointly trademarked the word ‘superhero’ in 1979, sent Mr Jules a letter stating that they opposed his book title because it infringed their mark. But Mr Jules argued that the word ‘superhero’ had entered common lexicon and should be free for everyone to use. 

“At first, there was a negotiations stage where they offered to pay me a couple of thousand pounds to change the title of the book,” Mr Jules told the Daily Telegraph. "I had spent a lot of time and effort putting it together so it wasn't very appealing to go back to square one and I thought it was a good title.”

Mr Jules and the two publishing giants then put forward evidence ahead of a planned hearing at the Intellectual Property Office in London, but Marvel and DC Comics dropped their case against him shortly before the scheduled hearing date. Subsequently, Mr Jules’s trade mark registration was approved and he is free to publish the book under his favoured title.

Expert intellectual property solicitors in East Sussex

Gaby Hardwicke can provide expert legal advice on a wide range of intellectual property (IP) matters. Your contacts for IP issues are:

  • Jon Fielden, Partner – (trade mark registration and protection).
  • Jeremy Laws, Partner – (IP rights claims, whether defending or initiating a claim).
  • Gemma Ritchie, Associate Solicitor – (IP contracts).

Alternatively, please call us on 01323 435 900 or 01424 438 011.

Posted: 26 May 2016

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