Marvel and DC Comics have officially dropped a case against small businessman Graham Jules over the use of the word “superhero.” According to The Mirror, Jules can now legally use the word in his book title “Business Zero to Superhero.”
When Jules attempted to publish his start-up manual, the two major comic book companies contested his use of “superhero,” as the two publishers had jointly trademarked the word in 1979, covering a range of products, from comic books and playing cards to pencil sharpeners and glue. Their renewal of that mark in 2006 drew widespread attention, as well as scrutiny from those who question whether such a term should be allowed to be registered. They claimed Jules’ title infringed on this trademark, while he argued that the word had become part of everyday language.
However, after two-and-a-half years and just four days before they were due at a legal hearing, Marvel and DC backed down and dropped the case for “commercial reasons.”
“I was on the verge of scrapping the book, so this is an amazing result,” Jules shared. “At the beginning I felt helpless and scared. It shows that even the little guy can achieve something with determination.”
“I can’t believe I have defeated the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Iron Man all by myself,” he added.
In a similar scenario, American small-press publisher Ray Felix last year publicized his fight with DC and Marvel over “super hero,” insisting the publishers had overstepped the bounds of their trademark in opposing his registration of his comic series A World Without Superheroes.
In 2004 small-press publisher GeekPunk changed the name of its series Super Hero Happy Hour to Hero Happy Hour following objections by DC and Marvel; in 2009, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sustained their opposition to the registration of “Super Hero” for a line of suntan lotions, sun block and beauty creams.
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