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Claiming trademark infringement, Jazan Wild sends C&D letters to reviewers

by  in Comic News Comment

Jazan Wild, the comics creator who gained attention in 2010 when he sued NBC and the producers of Heroes for $60 million, has begun sending cease-and-desist notices to reviewers who publish excerpts from Melissa Marr’s new young-adult fantasy novel Carnival of Souls, claiming the title violates his trademark.

Children’s literature website Bookalicious today posted an email from Wild, aka Jason Barnes, insisting that a recent excerpt of Marr’s book amounts to a “willful and malicious infringement” of his “Carnival of Souls” trademark and demanding its removal.

Wild’s objection follows a trademark-infringement lawsuit he filed in July against HarperCollins, accusing the publisher of intentionally using the title Carnival of Souls and the phrase “Enter the Carnival” in an effort to create confusion between Marr’s novel and his own 2005-2006 comic series and related works. He’s asking a federal court to prevent HarperCollins from using the title, and seeking the destruction of all of the allegedly infringing books and promotional materials, as well as unspecified damages. In court documents, Wild’s lawyer recounts his client’s repeated attempts to head off the release of Marr’s book as Carnival of Souls, which were ultimately dismissed with HarperCollins’ trademark counsel allegedly saying, “You’re not an attorney, are you?”

It’s worth noting that Wild’s legal dispute is with HarperCollins, so it’s unclear why his cease-and-desist notice is directed at book reviewers. More baffling, however, is how in Wild’s estimation an excerpt from Marr’s novel (whose copyright is held by Marr) infringes on his “Carnival of Souls” trademark; his objection is with the title, not the text.

Bookalicious and Epic Reads have posted a statement from HarperCollins, which reads: “The lawsuit filed by Jazan Wild against HarperCollins Publishers over the use of the title Carnival of Souls, is completely without merit. Carnival of Souls has been used as the title of numerous books, films, songs, records and comic books since at least 1962, and Mr. Wild has no exclusive right to its use as the title of a creative work. HarperCollins will defend the suit fully. Furthermore, any claim that the use of a book title, in a review of that same work, infringes on a trademark is nonsensical.”

When the dispute was brought to the attention of Neil Gaiman, the author pointed to a BookFinder search for “Carnival of Souls” and wrote that he is, “Amused and amazed at how many novels called CARNIVAL OF SOULS are out there already.”

Undeterred, Wild appeared in the comments thread at Bookalicious to further argue his case. “I am not doing anything but trying to save my series from an out and out attack by a billion dollar corporation that feels they are above the law,” he wrote. “I knew that if they released the Marr book, I would be the bad guy, for trying to defend my trademark. But what else can I do? Would J.K. sit back while someone else released another HARRY POTTER series. I think if you look at the facts in the case, you will see, that Harper Collins, should have not released a book and series, with a mark that they knew, was already out there. What’s next another Twilight series? As I said before, I am now stuck with having to issue ‘cease and desists.’ I got a lot of better things to do with my time. Harper has caused this entire mess. Read the complaint and you will see what I am saying is true.”

Wild sued NBC and producer Tim Kring in 2010, claiming they ripped off the “carnival of lost souls and outcasts” that menaced the final season of the television drama Heroes. He more recently sued a songwriter over a graphic novel biography deal that went bad.