There is a battle going on. David verses Goliath (in this case two Goliaths) as independent comics publisher Ray Felix jumps into the ring against Marvel and DC in defense of their allegations that he infringes on their joint trademark of the word superhero when he uses it in the title of his work, “A World Without Superheroes.”
Yes, Marvel and DC share the trademark of every variation of the word/term superhero and pounce on anyone that uses the word to promote any goods or services related to entertainment, toys, apparel, etc. Sort of…
They seem vulnerable to pornographers who have a field day exploiting parodies of all the major superheroes as was detailed in a previous blog post “Superheroes Defenseless Against Porn Parodies.” Parodies of the individual characters is one thing but the pornography industry has proven that the word superhero is too generic to be a trademark. They use it everywhere without the special disclaimers they use to cover their overexposed behinds in every other instance.
Axel Braun, lead director of Vivid Entertainment’s “Superhero” imprint (How is an imprint a parody?!) likes to brag about their extensive team of entertainment lawyers and how they insure that they are always within the boundaries of the parody law.They use the word superhero blatantly in the imprint’s logo that simply reads “Vivid XXX Super Heroes.”It is on the cover of all of their DVD’s. It is in the title sequence of the videos and previews. They even have a magazine titled “Vivid XXX Superheroes Magazine” that is on its 27th issue.
Various other porn producers released titles like “Chasing Pink 4 ‘Superhero,’” “Superhero Sex-o-rama,” “Superhero Sex Therapist,” and “Pornstar Superheroes” throw the word around like yesterday’s funny pages.
Superheroes is a word that obviously represents what the pornographers are producing and selling just as it represents what Marvel and DC are producing and selling: Characters possessing special powers that wear costumes with capes and masks. They are selling the same thing! Despite what they may be doing in the context of a story isn’t a superhero a superhero even if they get naked?
Porn parody aside why is the word Superhero still not generic enough for it to be abandoned by the courts as a trademark?
Google superhero and 47.6 MILLION results show up with plenty of links that employ the word superhero as part of their name. Here are a few websites, mostly commercial, from the first three pages of the search:
http://www.superherosupplies.com/ I love this one!!!
More evidence that the word is generic?
Kids play Superhero in school yards all over and every day forcing overly concerned educators to coin the term Superheroplay. This term refers to kids using their imaginations often acting out as imaginary superheroes with imaginary powers.
There is even a National Superhero Day when everyone is encouraged to be a superhero for a day and news stations ask parents to send in letters explaining why their child is a superhero, not why their kid is Bat Man or Spider-man. Why is their kid Super Jane or Super Johnny?
There is even a growing trend of real-life superheroes patrolling the streets!
Marvel and DC were bold enough to argue that the word superheroes uniquely defined their products and services and seized opportunity to pull the wool over some blind trademark officer who failed to recognize that the word had been in use since 1917 and specifically described the entire genre of comics for decades.
Their weak argument is less valid, today. Superheroes have become part of our culture. Superheroes is a word we use to describe exemplary performances grounded in values of moral behavior (unless of course they are porn stars). It is a word that is ground into the lexicon of our daily lives like other, once trademarked, words such as aspirin, escalator, kerosene, thermos, and zipper that have all been deemed generic.
It is time that the ownership of this trademark is successfully challenged. Maybe the fine lawyers at mysuperherolawyer will take up the cause. They defended their own use of the word successfully!
Ray Felix is fighting the good fight. The genericization of the word will allow other comics publishers working within the superhero genre to accurately promote their projects to audiences that continue to hunger for fresh and exciting superhero stories that are not limited to the editorial policies of Marvel and DC.
Become a superhero and support Ray Felix. Help free the word superhero from trademark bondage. Renewal of the trademark registration is in 2016. If the courts do not deem it generic by then a unified front might be necessary to free the word.
Why should the Porn Industry be able to sell superheroes and other comics publishers can not. Maybe we can so long as our superheroes get naked. Hey, it works for them.
Making Comics Because We Want to,